CT Heart Scan Risks: 7 Better Ways to Screen for Heart Disease

The niche of medical care is divided over the fact that CT angiography cannot be used regularly for screening everybody suspected of suffering a heart disease with the substantial costs involved and threat of radiation exposure that make CT Heart Scan risks a bit too substantial to be denied. Rather than depending solely on CT Heart Scan or suffering a heart disease because of limited prevalence of such tests, a better approach lies in using the following, 7-step approach:

1. Using Framingham Risk Score

This might sound to humble as a solution but it is definitely handy when combined with the other steps proposed below and forms the basis for establishing a good, efficient system for unearthing an underlying heart condition. This assessment is more frugal when compared with CT Heart Scans and uses commonly-understood parameters like gender, age, blood pressure, smoking habits, cholesterol and any family history of cardiac problems. This information is used for creating an estimate in the form of a score that tells you whether you have a risk of suffering a heart attack in the coming, ten years.

2. Depending Upon C-Reactive protein

This blood test measures the propensity of plaque formation within the blood vessels. Please note that thickening of arteries due to plaque that is usually the result of high cholesterol levels raises the chances of suffering a heart attack. Thus, overweight people should ideally get their C-reactive protein levels checked, periodically. Higher values in this test point towards increased plaque formation. When done periodically, this test can help to establish the chances of suffering a heart attack in the next, 40 years and the overall chances of suffering from fatal heart problems like heart strokes. However, this test isn't very accurate for diabetics. When combined with the Framingham Score, the combined test is referred to as a Reynolds Risk Score.

3. Waist-Hip Ratio

This might seem like the most talked about health testing tip being discussed today but the fact remains that high fat/cholesterol levels are a direct deterrent to avoiding heart problems. Since, waist and hip ratios indicate the amount of fat you have in the abdominal area, these are direct indicators to your chances of developing cardiac problems. Excessive amounts of fat deposition leads to the creation of inflammatory chemicals that further fasten formation of plaque. This ratio is particularly applicable to middle-aged men who form the majority of heart disease sufferers across the world. Among women, a waist—hip ratio of around 0.80 or lower indicates a low-risk group whereas ratios between 0.81 and 0.85 are indicative of moderate risk and a ratio of more than 0.85 highlights high risk. In the same pattern, men with waist—hip ratio of 0.95 and below present a low-risk category, those with ratio between 0.96 and 1 present moderate risk and those with a ratio above 1 are at a very high risk of developing heart problems.

4. Body Mass Index (BMI)

BMI readings are based on weight and height measurements and are again indicative of your overall health apart from helping you assess the body fat levels. These measurements might not be the best bet for athletes who tend to have a lot of muscle mass or older people who tend to lose muscle mass as they age. Besides such particular cases, most people who have a BMI of over 25 are regarded as overweight and face a moderate-to-high risk of suffering a heart disease. A BMI value of 30 or greater means suffering from obesity, i.e. the risk of heart disease is very palpable.

5. Menopause Transition Rate

Women who were traditionally thought to have a rather low probability of suffering from heart diseases are now considered to be almost as vulnerable as men. Among women, those who are in the transition phase of entering menopause, referred to as going through Perimenopause, seem to be the bigger risk group. Perimenopause can be as much as 18-months long and since it includes some widespread hormonal changes, it leads to faster deposition of plaque among the arteries, particularly among women where Perimenopause proceeds faster. Thus, women who are suffering from an aggressively-progressing Perimenopause should seek medical consultation before trying anti-menopausal therapies like HRT since these can further raise the rate at which the plaque is deposited within the arteries.

6. Scanned Images of Your Arteries

Cardiac Imaging Tests are the best indicators of decoding any risk of suffering heart attacks. The simplest of tests in this niche use an Ultrasound for measuring the degree of thickness among the arterial walls. Even a simple Heart Scan is quite efficient in telling you about the degree of calcium deposition in the coronary arteries. Such tests are quite undemanding, use little or no radiation and are comparatively affordable, i.e. when compared with a usual CT Heart Scan. A reading of more 400 means a very imminent risk of suffering a heart attack.

7. Paying Attention to Your Body

This is among the most quoted and yet, one of the most-ignored aspects of cardiac health-related wisdom. This merely means that you should be more aware about symptoms like chronic difficulty in breathing, chest discomfort, palpitations, light headedness and unexplained fainting spells. These symptoms shouldn't be ignored and an immediate medical check-up is recommended to ensure that none of them are part of a progressing heart problem.