Caring for the heart

Heart scans or coronary calcium scans, are used to provide images of the arteries of the heart, or coronary arteries. Heart scans are used by doctors for seeking calcium deposits inside the heart’s arteries as they can lead to narrowing of the arteries and also an increase in the risk of heart attack. Coronary calcium score is the name of the result we get after this test.

Heart scans are used for getting the risk rate of suffering from a heart attack or other troubles before getting any noticeable symptoms of a heart disease. However, everyone cannot get a heart scan done. There are many walk-in medical services that publicize that anyone can walk right in and get a quick test of the arteries of the heart, but it is wise to address these offers with caution.

Why it is done?

The techniques used in heart scans are noninvasive and they help calculate the quantity of calcium inside the coronary artery walls. If calcium is found inside the walls of one’s arteries, it is an indication of risk of developing coronary artery disease.

A heart scan doesn’t help much if you have:

Low heart attack risk: For instance, if your age is less than 55 years,  levels of blood pressure and cholesterol are normal, and you aren’t a smoker, the risk percentage of you suffering from a heart attack will come out to be fewer than 10%, concluding that you belong to the low-risk category. This means that owing to the fact that your risk factors are few, your possibility of suffering from a heart attack in the forthcoming decade is fewer than 10%. So if you belong to the low-risk category, the information provided by a heart scan won’t be anything new to either your doctor or you.

High heart attack risk.  If you have a risk of 20% or more of suffering from a heart attack in the forthcoming decade, it means that you belong to the high-risk category. If your blood pressure and cholesterol levels are high, you smoke and are aged more than 65, it is likely that you’d be in this category. Thus, if your risk is high, getting a heart scan won’t be that useful.

When it is useful to get a heart scan done?

A heart scan is useful for providing you with information regarding your heart attack risk if you belong to the category of intermediary heart attack risk. This means that depending on the risk factors you have, the risk of you suffering from a heart attack in the forthcoming decade comes in the range of 10%-20%. For instance, your heart attack risk may be believed to be intermediate if you are aged between 55 and 65 and your cholesterol or blood pressure level is on the border or you smoke.  Doctors can assist you with determining the level of risk you have. Thus, heart scans are useful when you have intermediate risk or if you suffer from chest pain, specifically in cases where it is difficult to tell if the culprit is a heart difficulty.