Heart Scans and Calcium Scores
Do you recommend heart scans to get your calcium score and as an early measure to detect heart disease?
Yes, I do recommend heart scans. In fact, I had a CT scan of my own heart years ago and was pleased that my calcium score was zero. (A score of zero is best.) The advantage of the CT scan is that it's a great, cost-effective, non-invasive way to evaluate hard plaque in the coronary arteries. You may have to travel to find a hospital that performs CT scans of the heart, and you may have to pay out of pocket (about $500), but it is a worthwhile investment of your time and money if you have concerns about detecting heart disease early.
The limitation of the CT scan of the heart is that it detects hard plaque only. It will miss soft plaque (which many people have), unless your facility has a 64-slice or 128-slice device. Before the development of the 64/128 slice—which is minimally invasive because it involves IV injection of a radio-opaque dye—only invasive angiography (cardiac catheterization) was able to detect obstructions of the coronary vessels. Many times heart disease is a combination of hard and soft plaque, and only the 65/128 slice can differentiate between the two.
One caveat with all of these scans: You are getting some radiation. My dad died suddenly of an aortic aneurysm and had some heart disease at autopsy. That is why I risked the exposure to check my own heart. I don't send my own patients for CT scans unless they have serious risk factors for heart disease or some indication, like a symptom.
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Meet Dr. Sinatra
Dr. Stephen Sinatra is a highly respected and sought-after cardiologist and nutritionist with more than 30 years of clinical practice, research, and study. His integrative approach to heart health focuses on reducing inflammation in the body and maximizing the heart's ability to produce and use energy. More About Dr. Sinatra
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