Predicting Future Heart Attacks
Reported April 30, 2010
(Ivanhoe Newswire) What if you could predict your chances of having a heart attack years ahead of time? New research shows the coronary artery calcium score (CACS) may be useful in doing just that.
A Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine study found that considering the CACS along with traditional risk factors for heart disease is a better method of predicting future heart attacks than using traditional predictors alone.
In a group of volunteers, researchers tried to predict the risk of future coronary heart disease by using their traditional risk factors, such as age, gender, tobacco use, blood pressure and cholesterol level, and also by evaluating traditional factors plus CACS. They then compared which method did a better job of predicting who would experience a heart attack or serious chest pain.
Researchers found that the CACS was a major factor in classifying people in the most extreme categories.
“Ours is the first study to show that the CACS test, applied in a large population, actually puts more people who experience events in the high-risk category and more people who do not have events in the low-risk category,” senior author Philip Greenland, M.D. was quoted as saying.
“So the test is effective. It sorts people properly,”
The downsides to getting the test are that it is not covered by most insurance companies and exposes the patient to a high amount of radiation.
Source: Journal of the American Medical Association, April 28, 2010