Woman clutching her chest

Women and Heart Disease: Heart Tests to Consider

Simple lifestyle adjustments, including a healthy diet, regular exercise, and taking medications, could lower the risk of developing heart disease. The American Heart Association states that by making these lifestyle changes, over 80% of stroke and heart disease cases might be prevented. But because every case is different, these heart tests can provide you with a much clearer view of your heart health to see if you’re at risk and to create or fine-tune a prevention and treatment plan specific to your needs.

The Cardiac CT Scan

Women have an increased risk of developing microvascular angina, a heart disease that impacts the smallest heart blood vessels, than men. With this disease, some blood can still get through your arteries, but it’s not adequate to provide your heart what it requires to work efficiently. The thing is, this disease can easily be missed since it does not appear in an angiogram. Fortunately, there’s the cardiac CT scan, which is an advanced heart test that utilizes contrast dye and computer imaging for creating a 3D picture of your heart. This test helps doctors pinpoint blood vessel blockages, measure arterial plaque, spot coronary heart disease, and issues with heart function and the aorta, adds an experienced radiologist expert in American Fork.

Is a Cardiac CT Scan Right for You?

Female patient undergoing a CT scanIt’s recommended that you undergo a cardiac CT scan if you have a 10% or higher risk of experiencing a heart attack in the following decade. This applies even if you’re not experiencing any heart disease symptoms yet. If you are currently experiencing symptoms, however, including chest tightness or pain, you’ll have to undergo an exercise stress test and EKG, electrocardiogram right away.

CAC, Coronary Artery Calcium Scoring

This is a simple CT scan that utilizes radiation for measuring the amount of calcium present in the heart’s arteries. A heart attack occurs when plaque breaks open inside the artery, which in turn causes a clot to develop and obstructs the flow of blood to the heart. With this test, radiologists can detect calcium levels. Unlike plaque, hardened calcium will appear bright on the scan. If your scan show calcium deposits, you probably have atherosclerosis or calcific plaque in your coronary arteries.

Do You Need CAC Scoring?

The answer would depend on your specific case. You can benefit from this test if you are not experiencing any heart disease symptoms but are at risk of developing heart disease. For instance, if you are older than 45 years old, have a history of heart disease, and have borderline cholesterol levels. If your doctor finds calcium deposits in your arteries, you might have to start statin therapy right away.

Keep in mind that most heart diseases are preventable. And as with many diseases, early diagnosis and intervention are extremely vital. So the next you see your doctor, ask about these heart tests just to be on the safe side. If you find that you’re 100% comfortable about your doctor’s recommendations, it doesn’t hurt to obtain a second opinion.

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