ANCHOR LEAD: SCANNING FOR THE PRESENCE OF CALCIUM IN THE HEART’S ARTERIES CAN BE USEFUL, ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS
A technique known as coronary calcium scanning, where the heart’s arteries are examined for the presence of calcium in their walls, is useful in a variety of ethnic groups to predict heart disease risk, a recent study concluded. Rick Lange, a cardiologist at Johns Hopkins, says in light of recent criticisms regarding CT scans of the heart, this is good news.
LANGE: We’ve talked about the radiation dose associated with the CT scan and it can be quite substantial. With detection of calcium its actually very, very low. It’s in the neighborhood of about one-fiftieth to one-hundredth of what you get with a routine CT scan. For those individuals who have a family history of heart disease but no risk factors, the coronary calcium score can tell someone whether they’re at lower risk or a higher risk. For example, if you have a coronary score of 0 versus a coronary score of 400, you’re ten times more likely to have a heart attack or heart related death with the person who has all the calcium versus the person who has none. :31
So talk with your doctor to find out if coronary calcium scanning is indicated. I’m Elizabeth Tracey reporting.