Women's Heart Advisor October 2008 Issue

Ask The Doctor: 10/08

I would guess it is a calcium-scoring test. These tests, done with electron-beam computed tomography (EBCT), measure the amount of calcium in the coronary arteries and calculate a score that is an excellent marker of risk. I sometimes recommend a coronary artery calcium test when a patient has risk factors for heart disease and is reluctant to take statins. EBCT should not be confused with 64-slice CT scans, sometimes called "heart scans," "coronary CT" or "CT angiography," which are also advertised directly to the public and may cost several hundred dollars. These scans produce exquisitely detailed, three-dimensional images of the heart and coronary arteries showing hard, calcified plaques and softer plaques. If you have few risk factors for heart disease, the test wonít tell you anything you donít already know. If you are at high risk of heart attack, the test wonít change the way your risk factors are being treated. If you are at intermediate risk, seeing your own clogged arteries might encourage you to change your habits.

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