Traditionally, screening for prevention of heart attack and stroke has relied on assessment of cardiovascular risk factors. This approach, set forth by the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP), identifies high risk individuals solely based on age, blood pressure, cholesterol, smoking, and diabetes.
Taking these factors into consideration should be the first step but it does not adequately determine the high risk individuals particularly those at risk of a near future event, the vulnerable patient. These individuals have a high burden of atherosclerotic plaques and may or may not have a high burden of risk factors. Numerous studies have shown that direct assessment of atherosclerosis is much more accurate than assessment of risk factors of atherosclerosis.
In 2006, the SHAPE Task Force authored the SHAPE Guidelines for screening asymptomatic population, which includes specific recommendations for non-invasive detection and treatment of subclinical atherosclerosis in middle-aged, at-risk population.
As part of its mission to establish a responsible practice of cardiovascular screening, SHAPE is initiating a certification program under SHAPE Certified Clinic to help ensure that patients receive a quality care that meets the spirit of SHAPE namely prevention and ultimately eradication of heart attacks. The SHAPE certification may be completed through the following steps:
All SHAPE Certified Clinics will gain access to educational materials prepared both for medical professional who conduct screening and consumers who undergo screening to inform them on screening technologies, treatment options, and latest related discoveries.