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Heart Score

Heart Score

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Published by Pure Health Inc
In the fight against heart disease, the deadliest disease, a heart scan for calcium deposits in the arteries could be the best indicator of a patient's risk.
In the fight against heart disease, the deadliest disease, a heart scan for calcium deposits in the arteries could be the best indicator of a patient's risk.

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Published by: Pure Health Inc on Mar 24, 2009
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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Heart Score
Written by: Dr. Steve Windley, MDTEST TAKING
Evaluating your risk for heart disease.
Heart disease continues its reign as our nation’s number one killer, hurting quality of life andcreating a huge financial burden. Like so many other chronic illnesses, prevention shouldalways be the goal. The calcium heart score, or heart scan, is now being offered as an option tohelp assess a person’s risk. This test, a type of x-ray, may allow doctors and patients anoninvasive view of heart disease issues.Prevention should be a top priority in health care. Often, diagnosis and treatment of manydiseases, including heart disease, comes after the illness is much more difficult to treat.Prevention of heart disease becomes even more of a priority since one of the most frequentsymptoms of a heart attack is sudden death. Cholesterol treatment is now a prominent part ofthe heart disease treatment program, but it is certainly not the only part. There are people whosuffer a heart attack with normal cholesterol levels. Many people are worried about talking totheir doctor about their risk since this can lead to big tests like a stress test or a heartcatheterization. There is a great need for a noninvasive assessment of heart disease risk. Manycenters are using CT scans to compute a score for the amount of calcium measured in thearteries. This is commonly called a calcium heart score or heart scan. These tests aresuggested to be a relatively simple way to obtain another heart disease risk factor to helpoutline how aggressive a treatment plan needs to be.At this point, several studies have been done to confirm that heart scans do provide usefulinformation to the doctor and patient [1,2,3]. The heart score can be used as a helpful guide tohelp predict heart disease [2]. The heart score is essentially a CT scan of the heart and its bloodvessels. The calcium that has been deposited into the arteries is measured and a score isdetermined based on the amount of calcium present. Heart disease is the only known cause ofcalcium deposits in the arteries [4]. A comparison percentile for males and females is madeusing age to help determine the risk of heart disease. A game plan for the heart can then bedetermined based on the score. Scores of zero are extremely low risk for heart disease. Scoresof 10-100 and less than 75 percent for age are considered intermediate risk, meaning a 10-20percent chance of heart disease is present per decade. Scores of 100 and greater than the 75percentile for age show a high risk for heart disease over the next ten years. The heart scorecan then be added to other data to assess risk for each person.The heart score is one piece of data that should be part of a more complete plan. This planshould include labs likeC-reactive protein,homocysteine,testosterone(for men),cholester ol, familyhistory and diabetes risk. The plan should also target optimal nutrition to decrease inflammationand supplements to help maintain the health of the arteries.
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Vitamin K,vitamin Dandessential fatty acidsare important for heart health. Vitamin K in particular is essential for helping the calcium go tothe bones where it is needed and not the arteries where it is associated with heartdisease. Patients with many risk factors, such as a high heart score and diabetes, shoulddiscuss with their health care team all the options available to help prevent further heartdisease.The one drawback to CT heart scores is the radiation exposure. The test itself is fairlyquick. Relative to other types of heart tests, this scan can be done for a very reasonable price.A simple chest x-ray is similar in radiation exposure to smoking one cigarette. A CT scan willhave noticeably more radiation [5]. There may soon be other types of heart tests like heart ratevariability, which can gauge stress on the heart noninvasively without radiation. Currently, thereis no readily available or commonly used diagnostic test beyond the heart scan.The heart score offers an option for those wishing to better understand their risks for heartdisease. A doctor cannot assess your risk through just a stethoscope or even an EKG. To trulyknow if you are at a high risk for heart disease there has to be some kind of in-depth study. Theheart score does have the risk of radiation from the CT, but it is otherwise noninvasive andmuch cheaper than many standard medical tests. It can help provide more constructiveguidance for the patient and physician by knowing how aggressive the heart disease preventionprogram should be.References:1. Rumberger, JA. (2009). Practical tips and tricks in cardiovascular computed tomography:non-contrast “heartscans” – beyond the calcium heart score. J Cardiovasc Comput Tomogr,3(1):52-6.2. Hopkins, PN. (2006). Association of coronary artery calcified plaque with clinical coronaryheart disease in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's Family Heart Study. Am JCardiol, 97(11):1564-9.3. Shaw, LJ. (2003). Cost effectiveness of screening for cardiovascular disease with measuresof coronary calcium. Prog Cardiovasc Dis, 46(2):171-84.4. Rumberger, JA. (2003). Clinical use of coronary calcium scanning with computedtomography. Cardiol Clin, 21(4):535-47.5. Jerijan, K., Brant-Zawadzki, MN. (2001). Radiation dose in coronary calcium: comparison ofmulti-slice and electron beam CT scanners. Radiology, 221:365.
Other Trusted Source:Mayo ClinicDisclaimer:
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