At Home with Chris Jessen 2018 - 98
Is your heart
Whether you are worried about cardiovascular disease
or simply wish to stay healthy for as long as possible,
the latest screening techniques are invaluable
hen you consider that
someone has a heart
attack every two minutes
in this country, you realise
that heart disease is a common problem.
However, if an abnormality can be
identified early enough, the risk can
be significantly reduced.
The primary purpose of screening for
cardiovascular disease is to identify
patients whose outlook could be
improved by an intervention.
Screening is different from the
estimation of risk that GPs offer. Your
GP will measure blood pressure, check
your cholesterol and glucose levels,
record your height and weight and
document your family history and
smoking habits. This data is plugged
into a risk calculator and medical advice
or treatment is offered based on the
results. While risk estimation identifies
the likelihood of a future event, screening
identifies actual existing disease.
Advanced coronary heart disease
can be present with minimal or no
symptoms and then suddenly and
rapidly progress to a heart attack
or even sudden cardiac death. The
rationale for early detection is that
it allows for early treatment of the
condition, which may reduce the
future risk and improve the prognosis
for that individual.
What does screening
Screening for heart conditions usually
involves an assessment with a
cardiologist, an electrical heart trace
(ECG) and an echocardiogram, which
is a painless ultrasound scan of the
heart. And for coronary artery disease
in particular, screening can now be
easily undertaken using a CT coronary
Coronary artery disease occurs when
plaques build up within the walls of your
arteries causing them to narrow
(atherosclerosis). These plaques are
deposits of fat, cholesterol, and calcium
and it's the calcium that can be reliably
detected by the use of a CT coronary
calcium scan. Therefore, if calcium is
detected, it is likely that coronary artery
disease is present.
The amount of calcium present in
the arteries of the heart is a sensitive
measure of determining your risk of
a future cardiac event. Conversely, if
no calcium is detected, this suggests
you are at low risk of a heart attack.
The test can detect disease at a very
early stage, and potentially years
before standard health screening.
The CT scan is fast, painless and
easy. It is completely non-invasive and
requires no special preparation. The
entire procedure only takes about
10 minutes and uses a very low dose
of X-ray radiation.
So if you're male and over 40, or
female and over 45, and can tick one
of the following criteria, you could
benefit from knowing your coronary
Do you smoke or have you ever
Do you have a family history of
Do you have high blood pressure?
Do you have raised cholesterol levels?
Do you have a history of diabetes?
Are you overweight?
Do you lead a sedentary lifestyle?
The early detection of coronary calcium
provides an opportunity to apply the