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New Screening at Mon General can help detect Coronary Artery Disease

Posted Date: 5/8/2015

              Are you at risk for a heart attack?

              Mon General Hospital is offering a new screening that may help determine whether a heart attack is in your future. Called a “CT Cardiac Calcium Scoring Screening Exam,” this test can signal the presence of coronary artery disease (CAD).

            “A cardiac CT (computed tomography) scan for coronary calcium is a non-invasive way of looking for calcified plaque in the coronary arteries,” said Brenda DeBastiani, Director of Imaging at Mon General Hospital. “Calcified plaque results when there is a build-up of fat and other substances in the arteries. This material can calcify, signaling the presence of atherosclerosis, also known as CAD.”

            People with coronary artery disease have an increased risk for heart attacks. Over time, plaque build-up can narrow the arteries or even close off blood flow to the heart. The result may be chest pain or a heart attack.

            Mon General’s Imaging Department is offering the CT Cardiac Scoring Screening Exam for $99. A doctor’s order is required for the test. The cost includes both the CT exam and the interpretation of the exam by a radiologist.

            “The goal of the test is to determine if CAD is present and to what extent,” DeBastiani said. The screening study is for patients with risk factors for CAD, but no symptoms. Risk factors include high blood cholesterol, family history of heart attacks, diabetes, high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, obesity or lack of physical activity.

            “Because calcium is a marker of CAD, the amount of calcium detected on a cardiac CT scan is a helpful tool,” she said. The results of the screening are expressed as a calcium score. The score can range from zero, no evidence of CAD, to over 400, extensive evidence of CAD. The score may help predict the likelihood of a heart attack and help physicians determine if preventative medicine or other measures are necessary to lower risk.

            A CT scan is a diagnostic medical test, similar to a traditional x-ray, which produces multiple images of the inside of the body. The scan can generate three-dimensional images of internal organs providing greater detail than a traditional x-ray.

            Those with risk factors for CAD are encouraged to ask their doctors if the exam might be beneficial. Those with a doctor’s order for the test may call (304) 598-1642 to schedule.

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