A coronary artery calcium scan – also known as a calcium scan – has been developed that could detect the build-up of coronary plaques (that restrict blood flow to the heart) even before someone shows any symptoms of heart disease at all.
Dr Alan Rozanski, chief academic officer and director of the cardiology fellowship training programme at Mount Sinai St Luke’s Hospital in New York, explained that the scan can actually detect heart disease decades before symptoms first appear.
He went on to add that using state-of-the-art scanners means that the scans themselves are associated with very low exposure to radiation, similar to a mammogram in fact, and they’re also less costly than other forms of medical imaging.
“By using imaging for screening, we can detect problems early on, which gives the patient an opportunity to make lifestyle changes to help avoid developing heart disease–such as by improving nutrition, starting to exercise or quitting smoking. We believe this will not only help improve and save lives but that it can ultimately contribute to lower health costs since the earlier adoption of positive health habits can reduce patients clinical risk and potentially eliminate the need for more costly interventions later on,” Dr Rozanski went on to say.
Given previous research from Imperial College London revealing that medical professionals may be missing the early warning signs of heart attacks in some patients, such a test could well prove to be a very real lifesaver in the future.
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