Should You Have a Heart Scan?
Have you ever wondered if you could actually look inside
your heart and coronary arteries to determine exactly what your risk is for
a heart attack? What was once only fantasy is now possible with the "virtual
reality" of the ultrafast CT scan. This is a simple-but expensive--non-invasive
test which can show you if you have potential cardiac problems in a few minutes.
Also called an electron beam tomography or EBT, this test precisely measures
tiny microcalcifications and plaque build-up on the walls of the coronary arteries
which can eventually cause blockages. After measuring the amount of build-up,
each test gets a score. Based upon this score, your physician can recommend
appropriate preventive and treatment steps.
This test is not for everyone. First of all, its cost of
$500 is not usually covered by insurance. Second of all, not every adult is
at increased risk for cardiac disease. This test may be helpful, however, for
asymptomatic patients with cardiac risk factors such as a family history of
heart disease. For these patients, other screening tests such as stress tests
are not always reliable: stress tests have nearly a 25% false negative rate
in men-and even higher in women. That means that many patients with potential
cardiac problems are being missed.
You don't need any special testing to reduce the most significant
cardiac risk factors. If you smoke, stop. Maintain a healthy body weight.
And, increase your amount of aerobic exercise.
For more information, click here.
Created: 7/2/2001  - Donnica Moore, M.D.