For more than half of adults, the first sign of heart disease is a heart attack. This year alone, more than a half million people will die from a heart attack for which there was no other symptom. We’ve always relied on cholesterol as the early indicator, but many patients with normal cholesterol are still in real danger, because they still have blocked coronary arteries.

We’re excited to offer a heart scan using CT technology, completed in less than five minutes, that eliminates the guesswork and can tell us if a patient has heart disease and its severity.It’s called a Heart Scan, or a coronary calcium scoring, and this powerful technology creates a clear picture of the arteries and a score that’s easy to understand.

We were recently certified by the National Heart Health Program to administer this test, which is delivered by a low dose CT scanner.Calcium scoring tests count the calcium buildup in coronary arteries. Although higher scores indicate changes in diet, exercise and/or medications are needed to lower risk, lower scores can—in some cases—eliminate the need for medication in patients previously believed to be at higher risk.

The goal of a heart scan is simple: Identify the disease in its earliest stages, prevent worsening and reduce life-threatening events.

After a five-minute scan, a Radiologist will examine your scan and give you a score. For patients found to be at risk, their physician can put them on medication, modify their diet, or monitor their health to decrease their chance of having a heart attack.

We recommend the scan for men 45 or older and women 55 or older, and anyone younger who has a family history of heart disease, is diabetic, or has high blood pressure.A discussion with your doctor can help you know if this test is for you.

Dr. Neil Green of Radiologic Associates of Fredericksburg is a board-certified, fellowship-trained Radiologist who specializes in cardiac imaging.

Photography by Norm Shafer.

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