Combined Testing Better at Detecting Heart Risks
Reported November 06, 2009
(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Doctors may be
dismissing chest-pain patients prematurely. Experts say physicians relying
on simply one test to assess heart health may be missing vital diagnostic
Experts suggest adding coronary artery calcium score (CACS) testing to
single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scanning since new
research shows combining the two techniques may better identify high
long-term risks for coronary heart disease.
In a study of 1, 126 patients with no history of heart disease, about half
the patients with a normal SPECT result had an at least moderately severe
CACS reading. If doctors used the SPECT test alone, cardiac risk would not
have been detected. Patients with a normal SPECT who had severe calcium
scores exhibited a three-fold increased risk of death or heart disease.
“Typically, when a patient presents with chest
pain and the [SPECT] test result is normal, we tell them everything looks
fine, but this may not be the case," John Mahmarian, M.D., principle
investigator of the study and cardiologist in Houston, Texas, was quoted as
saying. “If a large extent of calcium is present in the coronary arteries,
which can’t be measured by functional SPECT imaging, he or she is at high
long-term risk for a cardiac event. Based on our findings, using both tests
to define risk is better than either test alone."
Researchers add that although SPECT typically projects accurate short-term
results, CACS is needed to predict long-term risks.
SOURCE: Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC), November 10,