New Heart Scan Tests for Calcium Deposits

Are you a heart attack waiting to happen? There's a quick and easy test in Baton Rouge that can give you a pretty good idea. What's even better, it gives doctors the ammunition they need to all but eliminate your risk. Phil Rainier has information on a screening that could save your life.

When coupled with the latest computer technology, a CT scanner can be used for a screening doctors call calcium scoring. "If a patient has a very high calcium score, then they're at a higher risk for having a heart attack," says Dr. Darren Breaux. CT scanners work a lot like an x-ray, only a lot more sophisticated. After about 5 minutes in the scanner, computers are able to create intricate 3-dimensional images of the heart.

Any calcium deposits that show up in scan is sign of artery disease. The more extensive the build-up is, the higher the calcium score. In those cases, "it's recommended to consider further testing, stress test to make sure the patients don't have obstructive coronary disease, blockages that obstruct blood flow," Dr. Breaux says.

When there's enough calcium to cut off blood flow to the heart, treatment to remove the blockage may be necessary to ward off a heart attack. In patients with lower calcium scores, the risk of heart attack can often be offset with blood thinners and cholesterol lowering medication. Calcium scoring isn't for everyone. A family history of heart disease is one of the top reasons you may want to consider a calcium scoring test.

Diabetes, high blood pressure, and other conditions that put you at higher risk for heart attacks are other reasons for being tested. Because this is an elective procedure, most insurance won't cover calcium scoring tests. For the rest of this month, Baton Rouge Cardiology Center is offering to do the test for $65. The screening normally costs more than $250. To find out if you qualify, call 1-888-362-6805.

With Healthline, Phil Rainier WAFB 9NEWS