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Martha Jefferson Healthwise: Calcium Coronary Scan

January 30, 2013

It's a screening that could help prevent heart problems in some patients. In this week's Martha Jefferson Healthwise report, CBS19's Stephanie Satchell has more on the calcium coronary scan and how it's helping at-risk patients avoid heart attack, high blood pressure and more.

A few minutes inside a CT machine could help to save your life if you're at risk for coronary heart disease.
That includes a wide range of patients.

"One is family history of coronary heart disease. One is older age. One is high blood pressure. Another is high cholesterol, being overweight and diabetes," said Dr. Pradeep Rajagopalan, Interventional Radiologist.

Doctor Pradeep Rajagopalan is using calcium coronary screenings to help at risk patients at Martha Jefferson Hospital.

He looks over images checking for calcium and plaque in the arteries as well as other diseases and potential narrowing of the blood vessels. Any of those problems could lead to a heart attack among other conditions.

"If someone has a very low score then you know that that person may not need any sort of intervention or lifestyle modification, but if they have a high score then that tells you that that person may need at least a lifestyle modification if not medical therapy or further test to evaluate the blood flow, " said Dr. Rajagopalan.

Without this scan, Dr. Rajagopalan says 10 to 20 percent of patients will go on to develop a heart condition in the next 10 years.

Although, there are other alternatives to this test, calcium coronary screenings may be a bit more comfortable for patients.

"The test is non-invasive. It's fast. There's not IV contrast and no major risks involved with it," said Rajagopalan.

The bottom line is that this screening can help doctors pin point potential heart problems and get patients the treatment they need before it's too late.

Typically, calcium coronary screenings are not covered by most insurance companies and usually cost patients about $150.

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