February is American Hearth Month, and to close out the month, we'd like to share information about how XRA Medical Imaging can help you and your physician prevent heart attack by performing a calcium scoring exam.
Cardiac CT for Calcium Scoring is used to view a patient's coronary arteries to determine if there are blockages or or buildup of plaque. The plaque that is seen in arteries is usually a buildup of fat and other substances that can, over time, limit or block blood flow through the vessel. These are the same vessels that that supply blood to the heart. A patient who has calcified plaque narrowing the coronary arteries can be diagnosed with Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), which puts patients at a higher risk for a heart attack.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that about 720,000 people in the United States will have a heart attack every year. It is estimated that 515,000 of those will be a patient who is having a heart attack for the very first time, while the remaining 205,000 will occur in patients who have already experienced a heart attack. This equals out to about one heart attack every 34 seconds in America. Every 60 seconds, a heart attack will claim a life. Moreover, heart disease is the number one killer of women and is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined. It is estimated that 43 million U.S. women will be affected by heart disease and it is responsible for 1 in 3 women's deaths each year. This amounts to about one woman dying of a heart attack every minute.
Cardiac CT for Calcium Scoring determines if CAD is present in a patient, and is able to tell to what extent it appears. It is a screening study, recommended for patients who suffer from high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, or diabetes. Patients who have a family history of heart disease, are smokers, and are physically inactive are also recommended for calcium scoring exams.
Our services page goes into detail on how CT works and what to expect during an exam. However, during a calcium scoring exam, there is also an electrocardiograph that is attached to the patient to monitor the activity of the heart. After all of the images are taken, they are interpreted by one of XRA's radiologists and a calcium score is determined. This score will help the physician who referred the patient to determine the amount of CAD that appears in the patient's vessels. A score of 0 means there is no CAD present. A score in the range of 1-10 means there is minimal evidence of CAD. A score ranging from 11-100 constitutes mild evidence of CAD, scoring between 101 and 400 shows a moderate evidence of CAD, and a score that is greater than 400 demonstrates extensive amounts of CAD in a patient's vessels.
If you feel that you are at a higher risk of heart attack, ask your doctor about coming to XRA Medical Imaging to receive a Cardiac CT for Calcium Scoring exam. Once you know your risk, your physician can put you on the path to keeping your heart healthy.
For more information on heart health, visit the American Heart Association.