A “Calcium Score” may change your life

From NIH: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/cscan/cscan_all.html

What Is a Coronary Calcium Score?

A coronary calcium scan is a test that can help show whether you have coronary heart disease (CHD), also called coronary artery disease. CHD is the most common type of heart disease in both men and women.

In CHD, a substance called plaque (plak) builds up inside your coronary arteries. These arteries supply your heart muscle with oxygen-rich blood. Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances found in the blood.

Plaque narrows your coronary arteries and reduces blood flow to your heart muscle. It also makes it more likely that blood clots will form in your coronary arteries. Blood clots can partly or completely block blood flow to part of your heart muscle. This can cause chest pain or discomfort called angina (an-JI-nuh or AN-juh-nuh) or a heart attack.

CHD also can lead to heart failure or arrhythmias (ah-RITH-me-ahs). Heart failure is a condition in which your heart can’t pump enough blood to meet your body’s needs. Arrhythmias are problems with the rate or rhythm of your heartbeat.

Overview

A coronary calcium scan looks for specks of calcium (called calcifications) in the walls of the coronary arteries. Calcifications are an early sign of CHD. The test can show whether you’re at increased risk for a heart attack or other heart problems before other signs and symptoms occur.

Two machines can show calcium in the coronary arteries—electron beam computed tomography (EBCT) and multidetector computed tomography (MDCT). Both use an x-ray machine to make detailed pictures of your heart. Doctors study the pictures to see whether you’re at risk for heart problems in the next 2 to 10 years.

A coronary calcium scan is simple and easy for the patient, who lies quietly in the scanner machine for about 10 minutes. The scanner takes pictures of the heart that show whether the coronary arteries have calcifications. Continue reading


Coronary CTA a cost-effective alternative to cardiac catheterization for the evaluation of CAD, study suggests

ScienceDaily (Apr. 21, 2010) — According to a study conducted at Thomas Jefferson University (TJU), non-invasive coronary computed tomography angiography (CTA) is a cost-effective alternative to invasive cardiac catheterization in the care of patients who have positive stress test results but a less than 50 percent chance of actually having significant coronary artery disease (CAD).

The study will be published in the May issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology. CAD is a narrowing of the blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart. If left untreated, it can lead to a heart attack.

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