Heart Disease Awareness: How Medical Imaging Scans Can Help

February was American Heart Month, but that doesn't mean it's okay to forget about heart health now that February is in the books. According to the Center for Disease Control, an American will have a coronary event every 25 seconds and heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Living healthy could help to reduce one's risk of heart disease, and part of a healthy lifestyle involves regular checkups and precautions. Medical imaging scans such as heart scans make it possible to diagnose conditions affecting the heart at an early stage when treatment or lifestyle changes may have a greater impact. Also known as a coronary calcium scan, these provide physicians with pictures of the arteries in the heart from which doctors may look for calcium deposits that may narrow the arteries and increase the risk of heart attack. So when could a heart scan be helpful? Those at low risk of heart attack, such as individuals younger than 55 who have normal cholesterol and blood pressure and do not smoke, may not find a heart scan useful. On the other side, those at high risk of heart attack, including those with high cholesterol levels or high blood pressure and/or those who smoke or are over the age of 65, may not find a heart scan helpful either, as they and their doctor should already be aware that they are at high risk of heart attack. Those who may find a heart scan or other medical imaging scans to detect heart disease helpful include individuals at intermediate risk of heart attack such as those between 55 and 65 years of age with borderline high cholesterol and blood pressure or those who smoke. It is important to discuss one's risk of heart attack and whether a medical imaging scan may be helpful with a physician.
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