One in every four deaths among American adults is caused by heart disease and experts at the Memorial Cardiac and Vascular Institute in Hollywood want people to know the importance of knowing how healthy their heart is. The quickest and most straightforward way to get a detailed look inside the health of a heart is with a specialized heart scan known as a coronary calcium scoring CT scan. The non-invasive procedure takes a series of X-ray images of the heart, looking for plaque inside the arteries. This process provides a convenient option for many patients to determine their risk of serious problems.
Scans are beneficial for people who don’t necessarily have any heart-related symptoms but may be at increased risk for heart disease or other conditions. The higher the score, the more likely it is that arteries carrying blood could become blocked.
“That knowledge is something that will change the management of the patient both from the patient’s perspective and the physician’s perspective,” Wayne Pollak, MD (pictured), a cardiologist at Memorial Cardiac and Vascular Institute.
The scan looks in the heart’s arteries for plaque, made up of materials like cholesterol, fats and calcium. Once the plaque is present, it can begin building up over time. This narrows the size of the artery’s opening and restricts blood flow. Restricted blood flow to the heart can cause blockages that put a patient at greater risk of severe issues, including heart disease or a heart attack.
In addition to restricting blood flow, plaque deposits can break open and form a clot, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These clots can cause heart attacks, affecting more than 800,000 Americans yearly.
Getting a calcium score detects these plaque buildups early before they worsen. The earlier these buildups are detected, the sooner doctors can prescribe medications or suggest lifestyle changes that may decrease the risk of heart problems.
Scans are most useful for those with an increased risk of heart disease or diabetes but involve radiation and require a prescription. Factors considered in determining risk include a family history of heart disease, age, diabetes, cholesterol levels, blood pressure and lifestyle habits.
To learn more or make an appointment with Memorial, visit https://www.mhs.net/services/cardiac-vascular/services/heart-scan or call 954-276-5500.