Carotid ultrasound screening programs in rural communities: A systematic review

Marjana Petrova, Hosen Kiat, Alex Gavino, Craig McLachlan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Carotid atherosclerosis assessments inform about stroke and cardiovascular risk. It is known that stroke and cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevalence is higher in rural communities than in urban communities. We aimed to conduct a systematic review of rural carotid ultrasound screening programs to define carotid atherosclerosis using traditional and emerging imaging biomarkers, prevalence, and risk factors. We searched Ovid/MEDLINE, Ovid/EMBASE, SCOPUS and CINAHL from inception to 3 April 2020 for rural population studies that utilized carotid ultrasound screening for adults ≥40 years of age and free of known cerebrovascular disease. Studies were included if participants received a bilateral ultrasound scanning of the carotid arteries and reported at least one marker of carotid atherosclerosis pathology. A random effect meta-analyses calculated the estimated prevalence of carotid plaque. In total, 22/3461 articles that met all of the inclusion criteria were included. Studies reported increased intima media thickness (IMT), carotid plaque presence and carotid artery stenosis. There were no studies reporting on novel imaging markers, such as carotid stiffness, carotid plaque morphology or neovascularization. The overall random effect pooled prevalence of carotid plaque was 34.1% (95% CI, 33.6–35.0); the prevalence of increased IMT was 11.2–41.5%, and the prevalence of carotid artery stenosis was 0.4–16.0%. There is an absence of data necessary to understand the carotid atherosclerosis prevalence across global rural populations. Represented studies have focused on East Asian countries where a high burden of rural carotid artery disease has been reported. There is no rural evidence to guide the use of novel ultrasound carotid biomarkers such as stiffness or neovascularization.
Original languageEnglish
Article number897
JournalJournal of Personalized Medicine
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021


  • Carotid atherosclerosis
  • Carotid plaque
  • Carotid ultrasound
  • Rural screening


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