Archive for ‘Heart’

September 26, 2014

Save a Man’s Heart!

Obesity-waist circumference by Victovoi via Wikimedia Commons Copyright Public DomainHaving seen enough episodes of Grey’s Anatomy (or ER or any of a dozen other TV shows about medical practitioners) you may well know the amount of work a doctor can put in to save a man’s heart. OK, that is television and not real life.  As doctors, we love to save lives! We prefer to do it preventatively and proactively.

 

So… what does it take to save a man’s heart? It is easy; exercise, limited alcohol consumption, no cigarettes and a healthy BMI are the keys. The more items a man follows from this list, the better protection for the heart.

 

Here’s what blew our collective mind:

 

80% = the number of heart attacks in men that are preventable with a healthy lifestyle. Eighty!

36% = the risk reduction of heart attack by not smoking

12% = the risk reduction of heart attack by keep a waist measurement below 37”

3% = the risk reduction of heart attack by exercising on a regular basis

 

These numbers come from a recent study in The Journal of the American College of Cardiology. And also from the land of amazingly great news.

 

Get yourself or your man on the road to your best possible health by engaging in a healthier lifestyle and make those numbers work in your favor!

 

 

(Image credit: Obesity-waist circumference by Victovoi via Wikimedia Commons Copyright Public Domain)

 

Diagnostic Imaging Centers blogs on regularly about women’s health at www.mammographykc.com and general radiology at www.diagnosticimagingcenterskc.com. Visit our sites for more helpful information!

 

February 14, 2014

Heart Health: CT Coronary Angio

Here is an image from a CT coronary angiogram showing the aorta (the main blood vessel coming out of the heart and bringing blood to the body) with the coronary arteries coming off the aorta and going around/to the heart – the heart has been removed from the image so we can see the vessel, much like is seen on a heart catheterization. These arteries show no significant narrowings.

Here is an image from a CT coronary angiogram showing the aorta (the main blood vessel coming out of the heart and bringing blood to the body) with the coronary arteries coming off the aorta and going around/to the heart – the heart has been removed from the image so we can see the vessel, much like is seen on a heart catheterization. These arteries show no significant narrowings.

Now that we’ve covered CT coronary calcium scores, we’d like to talk more about noninvasive heart imaging.

There are several ways of studying artery narrowing or blockages of the coronary arteries of the heart. Two common exams are the CT angiogram of coronary arteries and the coronary angiogram, also known as a heart catheterization or “heart cath.”

For a CT angiogram, radiologists use CT technology and intravenous contrast to noninvasively image the arteries. A heart catheterization, usually performed by a cardiologist, uses a small catheter threaded through the blood vessels to the heart to inject contrast into the arteries.  The exam may require light sedation, and the use of catheters in the heart has risks including but not limited to blood vessel damage, arrhythmias, bleeding and stroke.

It has been shown that 40% of heart catheterization procedures in women and a smaller percentage in men are normal.  In those cases, nothing is wrong with the arteries and nothing requires treatment like angioplasty or stenting.  Having a less invasive, safer exam to evaluate people at risk for heart disease or symptoms of heart disease is a bonus – particularly for those patients with lower risk and potentially normal coronary arteries.

CT angiography of the coronary arteries uses CT, EKG, intravenous contrast and sophisticated 3D post processing techniques to create 3D images of the heart and heart arteries for analysis. Both soft plaques and calcified arterial plaques can be imaged and analyzed for severity. The determination for noninvasive or invasive treatments can be made from this study. The  procedure takes approximately 30 – 60 minutes, requires little preparation and the results are shared with the ordering physician for further review.

For patients at high risk for coronary artery disease, or those likely needing intervention such as angioplasty (treating narrowed arteries with a balloon) or stenting, a traditional heart catheterization is recommended. This allows diagnosis to be followed by immediate treatment.

CT coronary angiography can be considered for the following patients among others:

  • Patients with a strong family history of heart disease.
  • Patients with multiple risk factors for heart disease such as hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, diabetes.
  • Patients with atypical chest pain.

Talk to your medical provider if you have questions regarding this examination or questions regarding your personal risk for heart disease.

February 11, 2014

Heart Health: CT Coronary Calcium Score

One image from a coronary calcium  score showing calcifications (which show up as bright white, like the bones) in the wall of the coronary arteries at a level just above the heart.

One image from a coronary calcium score showing calcifications (which show up as bright white, like the bones) in the wall of the coronary arteries at a level just above the heart.

It’s heart month! We are joining with the American Heart Association in trying to raise awareness of the leading killer of women and men. In the past, we’ve explained the basics of a CT scan,  and today we’d like to talk about a specific use of the technology to obtain a CT Coronary Calcium Score.

A Coronary Calcium Score is a scan of the heart which evaluates the arteries for the presence of calcium. Calcium build up in the arteries is one part of coronary atherosclerosis – the process by which arteries are narrowed by buildup of plaque, both calcified and noncalcified (soft). Finding calcium in the arteries of the heart indicates coronary artery disease and is associated with an increased risk of future cardiovascular events, like heart attacks.

Obtaining a calcium score is a simple, quick, painless procedure. You will have EKG leads placed and then a quick scan of the heart will be done with the CT machine. No contrast is needed. Your study will be reviewed by your radiologist with computer assisted analysis. All calcium related to the coronary (heart) arteries will be identified, and a summation of the amount of calcium present will be reported. The score will be compared with others of the same age and sex.

The calcium score will give an estimate of the likelihood of significant coronary artery disease. It is important to remember that not all coronary artery disease will be calcified. Soft areas of plaque will not be found by this technique.

Coronary calcium score is a useful tool to consider for anyone in an intermediate risk category for heart disease or in some low-risk patients, especially those with a family history of early heart disease (before the age of 55 in a man or 65 in a woman).

What places someone in an intermediate risk category? Things like smoking, a family history of heart disease or high cholesterol can be factors. To determine your risk for heart disease, the Mayo Clinic has an excellent tool, found here. In intermediate and low risk patients, a calcium score can be an important independent predictor of the risk of future heart problems.

Recently, the American College of Radiology has reviewed the recommendations to determine the relative importance of getting a calcium score for different risk category patients. Their thorough statement and review can be found here.

For all, remember that cardiovascular disease is a leading killer. Take action to find out your risks and ways you can improve your heart health.