New CT scanner detects heart disease faster

Every year more than 735,000 Americans have a heart attack. Heart disease also kills more than 600,000 Americans each year.

Now, new technology is detecting heart disease in a fraction of a second and saving lives.

Mary Rademacher credits the new treatment for saving her life.

“I noticed some things weren’t quite right,” she said. “I noticed some irregularities. I would feel tired, sometimes faint.”

When Rademacher went in for treatment, doctors had a new tool at their disposal. Doctors opted for a 256-slice CT scanner instead of an invasive heart catheterization.

The new CT scanner takes 4-dimensional high definition images in about one-third of a second. The scanner only takes one pass around the heart, while some older machines take up to 16 rotations.

“We have great quality images with much less radiation,” said Dr. Ambarish Goal, medical director of the Advanced Cardiovascular Imaging CT Program at The Heart Hospital Baylor Plano. “This probably might be the single most powerful test, because we are not only able to look at the plumbing system of the heart, we can look at the whole cardiac system, including the cardiac valves.”

The new scanner can detect calcium buildup inside the coronary, even before people have symptoms.

Rademacher’s arrhythmia was fixed with medicine and a minor procedure.

“It is a life saver, and it’s so simple,” she said.

The Heart Hospital is offering the new CT coronary calcium score along with a diagnosis for only $79. At this point, it is not reimbursed by insurance.


TOPIC: New Scan Saves Hearts
REPORT: MB # 4149

BACKGROUND: Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. About 735,000 people have a heart attack every year in the United States and 600,000 people die from it. Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing over 370,000 people annually. Coronary heart disease is caused by plaque buildup in the walls of the arteries that supply blood to the heart and other parts of the body. Too much plaque buildup can cause the inside of the arteries to become narrow and make it difficult for blood to flow through a person’s body.
HEART CATHETERIZATION: The earlier heart disease is detected, the easier it is to treat. Thus, doctors may recommend a heart catheterization for patients to determine their risk for heart disease. During the procedure, a thin, hollow tube called a catheter is inserted into a large blood vessel that leads to the heart. Through the procedure, the pressure and blood flow in the heart can be measured. A contrast dye visible in X-rays is injected through the catheter and x-ray images show the dye as it flows through the heart arteries. This contrast dye shows where arteries are blocked. After the procedure, the patient will go to a recovery room for a few hours where they will have you lie flat. Heart catheterization is usually very safe and only a small number of people have minor problems. Some develop bruises where the catheter had been inserted and the contrast dye that makes the arteries show up on X-rays causes some people to feel sick to their stomachs, get itchy or develop hives.
NEW TECHNOLOGY: A heart scan, also known as a coronary calcium scan, is a noninvasive way to determine a person’s risk of developing heart disease. A heart scan is a specialized X-ray test that provides pictures of a person’s heart that can enable a doctor to detect and measure calcium-containing plaque in the arteries. The newest and most powerful heart scan is the 256-slice CT scanner. It takes 4D images of the heart in under one second with only one pass of the heart. With this scanner doctors can look at the whole cardiac system, including the cardiac valves. Compared to heart catheterization, heart scans are not a procedure so there is no recovery time.
(Source: Ambarish Gopal, MD)