Chicago: A person`s long-term risk of heart disease is better assessed by a pair of studies, as performing only one may miss a dangerous build up of calcium in arteries, U.S. researchers said on Monday.
Nuclear stress tests using single-photon emission computed tomography, or SPECT, examine blood flows to the heart. People with a normal result are generally thought to have less than a 1 percent chance of having a heart attack within a year.Computed tomography or CT scans use special X-ray equipment and sophisticated computers to measure calcified plaque in the heart arteries. These tests can detect varying degrees of blockages in the heart.Both tests expose patients to radiation.Mahmarian`s team followed 1,126 patients with no previous history of coronary artery disease whose doctors had already received both tests.They found people who were deemed low risk by the SPECT test were three times more likely than others to have a heart attack during the study period if they had high calcium scores.For these patients, a high calcium score was an even stronger predictor of having a heart problem than diabetes.
They said people with a normal SPECT who have other risk factors that put them at risk for heart trouble -- such as smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes or a family history of heart trouble -- would benefit from the extra test."We`re not recommending doing this to everybody. The patient has to have clinical risks," Dr. Su Min Chang of the Methodist Hospital, who worked on the study, said in a telephone interview.He said people who get a normal stress test might get a false sense of security. Adding the calcium test could give them a better picture of their long-term risk.The team did not look at whether the two-test strategy is cost effective but they said such studies are needed.Bureau Report
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