Hi. I’m Deborah Crawford-Hartley with Advanced Radiology and I’ve lost a lot of important people in my life to heart disease.
They were all way too young and it is difficult for me to think that a simple heart screening exam could have saved their lives. Friends from the age of 32 to 68 died from heart attack and they were asymptomatic. I’ve been screened and I’m a clean 0. At this time in my life I have no calcium build up in the arteries of my heart. However, I’ve eaten healthy for the last 35 years of my life, low fat, low carbs, high protein, and exercise is a regular part of my life. Aging is a natural process and I intend to age as gracefully and remain as healthy as possible.
It just takes a few minutes to screen for osteoporosis with a DEXA scan, and a few seconds to screen for breast cancer with a mammogram. But, what if such a simple test could also predict your risk for a heart attack? There is, and Advanced Radiology has state of the art equipment to evaluate this risk and Deborah Crawford-Hartley of Advanced Radiology would like to explain what this test is like.
Like many people who have this test, I do not have all the risk factors for heart disease but have a family history of it. My grandfather, my great aunt and my mother all died of heart disease in their 60’s. This has made me acutely aware that I need to take care of my heart, “Love My Heart”, and make sure I’m doing everything I can to keep my heart healthy.
The Heart Calcium Score often called, cardiac calcium score is done on our 128 slice state-of-the-art CT scanner at Advanced Radiology. It looks at the build-up of calcified plaque in coronary arteries. Plaque is made up of fat, cholesterol and calcium,” says radiologist Alan Hillard.”So we see one of those three elements. It’s a very good predictor statistically, of heart disease.”
I’ve had three cardiac calcium scores in my life, one at the age of 40, one at 50 and one last year at the age of, “I really don’t want to say.”
I wore a sweat shirt and a jog bra so that I didn’t have any metal on my upper body. They had me lie flat on the bed of the CT scanner and gently slid me into the machine. The technologist placed some leads on my chest to monitor my heart rate and had me place my hands up on the gantry of the CT scanner. After my heart rate slowed to around 80, the scan started. I had to hold my breath for a few seconds to make sure I was in the right position, then hold it again for the test.
It took just 8 seconds for the machine to take dozens of painless pictures of my heart.
With today’s technology you don’t have to wait hours for film to be developed. The pictures will go straight to the computer then off to the radiologist to be interpreted.
Individuals that schedule their own Cardiac Calcium Score leave with their results in hand.
Risk Factors for Heart Attack
- Strong Family History of Heart Attack
- High Blood Pressure
- High Cholesterol
- Being overweight
- Being physically inactive