Watch Mayo Clinic cardiologists and others discuss many conditions and treatments related to cardiovascular diseases and cardiovascular surgery.
The Early Atherosclerosis Clinic at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, offers comprehensive diagnosis and treatment for people who have or are at risk of early atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis is the buildup of fats, cholesterol and other substances in and on the artery walls. It also is called arteriosclerosis. When the condition affects people at a relatively young age, it's called early atherosclerosis. The onset of the disease is considered early in men under age 55 and in women under age 65. Developing this condition at a relatively young age can cause serious long-term effects on your health and quality of life.
Early diagnosis and treatment can stop atherosclerosis from worsening and prevent a heart attack, stroke or other medical emergency. Mayo Clinic uses early detection tools and new techniques for managing this disease that often has no symptoms.
In the Early Atherosclerosis Clinic, heart doctors (cardiologists), heart surgeons (cardiovascular surgeons) and other medical professionals work together. They use advanced technology and testing to refine your treatment plan and help you manage your condition.
Who might benefit from care at the Early Atherosclerosis Clinic?
The Early Atherosclerosis Clinic serves people who:
- Have developed complications of atherosclerosis, such as heart attack, stroke or peripheral artery disease (PAD), at a relatively young age.
- Have no symptoms, but have a family history of early atherosclerosis and are concerned about their risk of developing atherosclerosis. A family history of atherosclerosis may include a first-degree relative — a parent, sibling or child — who experienced a heart attack or stroke or developed peripheral artery disease at a relatively young age.
- Have familial hyperlipidemia, such as familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), which results from a change in one of three genes: LDLR, APOB or PCSK9.
- Have elevated levels of C-reactive protein, lipoprotein (a) or homocysteine in their blood. These are considered novel risk factors for early blood vessel disease.
Advanced diagnostic tools for personal risk assessment
Doctors often evaluate you for heart disease risk by assessing if you have the usual risk factors. These include high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes and smoking history. But these types of risk assessments may not evaluate family history and newer risk factors. Mayo Clinic researchers have developed additional tests to measure new risk factors and arterial function, with the goal of early detection and treatment.
Mayo Clinic combines this expanded testing with a complete cardiology appointment and development of a personalized treatment plan.
The Early Atherosclerosis Clinic offers several services, including:
- Tests to measure new risk factors. Your blood is checked for markers related to increased risk of early atherosclerosis. Examples of such markers are C-reactive protein and lipoprotein (a). Learn more about blood tests for heart disease.
- Arterial function tests. These tests assess the health of the blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to your body (arteries). They will look at the function of the inner lining of the arteries (endothelium), the stiffness of arteries and the presence of plaque in the carotid arteries.
- Heart scan. This heart scan measures the amount of calcium in the coronary arteries, which is an indicator of plaque buildup. You'll likely only have this test if you have no symptoms of heart disease but have a family history of it. People who are experiencing symptoms are known to have plaque buildup in their arteries.
- Genetic testing for familial hyperlipidemia syndromes. Genetic testing can identify the cause of familial hyperlipidemia. It also can be used to help identify other family members who might have similar changes in their genes. This method is called cascade screening.
- Cardiology appointment. A cardiologist trained in the assessment of cardiovascular risk and treatment of novel risk factors meets with you. Your cardiologist reviews your test results and recommends preventive measures, lifestyle changes and medicines, such as lipid-lowering medicines. Your doctor also might discuss the need for procedures such as angioplasty or surgery.
Mayo Clinic researchers helped develop a widely used cardiovascular risk marker panel and arterial function tests. These valuable tests assess your risk more thoroughly than did previous conventional test panels.
Our researchers focus on newer methods of detecting people at risk of early-onset cardiovascular disease and how those people might benefit from early, aggressive intervention. They also study how genetic information is useful in estimating cardiovascular risk.
Learn more about research in the Cardiovascular Research Center.
You may be referred by your primary doctor, or you may make an appointment on your own.
Nationally recognized expertise
Mayo Clinic is top-ranked in more specialties than any other hospital and has been recognized as an Honor Roll member according to the U.S. News & World Report's 2023-2024 "Best Hospitals" rankings.
Mayo Clinic campuses are nationally recognized for expertise in cardiology and cardiovascular surgery:
- Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., Mayo Clinic in Phoenix/Scottsdale, Ariz., and Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., are ranked among the Best Hospitals for heart and heart surgery by U.S. News & World Report.
- Mayo Clinic Children's Center in Rochester is ranked the No. 1 hospital in Minnesota, and the five-state region of Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, according to U.S. News & World Report's 2023–2024 "Best Children's Hospitals" rankings.
Sept. 12, 2023