Know your Calcium Score
Oftentimes, the busy holiday season adds stress for many people. In turn, more stress increases your risk for heart problems. Coronary artery disease is the #1 killer in America. Most people with coronary artery disease are unaware that they have it because they haven’t experience any symptoms. More than half the time, it’s only discovered after the person has a heart attack, or worse, dies suddenly. The sad fact is, many of these deaths could have been prevented. Studies have shown that heart/calcium scores can predict coronary artery disease with significantly higher accuracy than tracking standard risk factors.
Today, health-conscious men and women are taking charge of their health. They know that early diagnosis could save their lives. Using state-of-the-art technology, NDIC’s board-certified physicians are able to screen for some of the most prevalent and deadly diseases. Even better, these screening tests can be performed without a doctor’s order, allowing people to truly take charge of their health.
The purpose of screening tests is to detect disease in people who have no symptoms, and, if the disease is present, to detect it early enough to improve survival. Screening tests should be non-invasive, relatively inexpensive, and very sensitive to detecting the targeted abnormality. The screening test most of us are familiar with is mammography, which has proven useful in detecting early breast cancer. Thankfully, with the medical and technological advances we have seen over the past few decades, there are now screening tests available for many life threatening conditions, including coronary artery disease.
Each year in this country, more than 500,000 people die of coronary artery disease, and nearly two million are hospitalized due to myocardial infarction, better known as a heart attack. The process of atherosclerosis, which can cause blockage of the arteries that feed the heart muscle, begins early in life, and 1995 statistics show that more than 30% of heart attack victims are under the age of 65. A screening test that can accurately identify and quantify atherosclerosis of the coronary arteries, can in turn help to identify those who are at high risk for heart attack.
What is a Heart/Calcium Score?
A heart score is an evaluation of the coronary arteries for calcified plaque. The blood vessels of the body develop fatty deposits and the body will convert these deposits to calcium; this is the body’s defense mechanism against the soft plaque. Soft plaque can break free or cause a blockage, which can result in a stroke or heart attack. The amount of calcium is quantitatively determined for each artery and a total score is determined. The “total score” is an indication of the risk for coronary artery stenosis. A high score indicates the likelihood of a significant coronary artery stenosis. A low score would suggest that significant coronary artery stenosis is unlikely, however a low score does not guarantee a disease free heart or that heart attack will not occur.
Should I Know My Heart/Calcium Score?
In general, people who are of intermediate risk benefit most from obtaining their heart score. People are often considered intermediate risk if they have two or more of the following:
. Age (Men > 40, Women > 50)
. High blood pressure
. High cholesterol
The score is obtained using a non-invasive CT scan. During the scan your arms will be brought above your head and ECG leads will be attached to your chest. You will be asked to hold your breath for 10-20 seconds while the images are being taken. The exam is completed in less than 10 minutes.
Treating coronary artery disease early is always preferable to treating it after it has become more severe and symptomatic. The clearest benefit of the screening is detecting treatable or curable disease, which has been linked clearly to saving lives. But there is also a great benefit for those in whom no disease is detected – the majority of those tested. As has been proven with mammography, individuals who take charge of their health achieve a heightened sense of empowerment and peace of mind.
To schedule a screening test please call 239-593-4222.
Don’t wait until fatal symptoms (stroke or heart attack) occur, take charge of your heart health today!