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Heart Disease Health Center

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CT Scan Predicts Heart Attack, Death


If you're willing to pay for the ultra-fast CT heart scan -- and insurance is unlikely to cover the cost -- many places offer the test. But even if money is not an issue -- you may be concerned about what the test will tell you. That's exactly what worries many doctors.

This study, and others like it, allows us -- at least to a certain degree -- a glimpse into our own future. You don't need your doctor's OK to have the test done, but if your calcium score comes back high, you will certainly need to discuss the results, and your next step, with your doctor. Will it mean you'll go on to have additional tests? Will your doctor start treating you for heart disease?

At this point, these questions haven't been answered. And that's why some doctors aren't comfortable with the test. Discuss the ultra-fast CT scan with your doctor and see what he or she thinks. Then the two of you can come up with a plan to determine your heart disease risk.

An interesting question comes up from time to time when discussing calcium and heart disease. Since calcium in the heart is found in blocked arteries, does this mean that the calcium supplements you take for osteoporosis can cause heart disease?

The answer is "no." Calcium supplements will not increase the risk of developing heart disease -- it may actually decrease that risk. The calcium in blocked arteries results from inflammation. Calcium in the diet or from supplements does not affect this process.

In fact, a study from the University of South Carolina in Columbia showed that a higher intake of calcium may decrease the chance of dying from heart disease -- at least for women after menopause. They also found that calcium from the diet, supplements, or both, could protect the heart. So your heart should rest easy when it comes to taking calcium to protect your bones.

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