Senior Citizen's Guide digital books
Senior Citizen's Guide to Baltimore

New Tool Helps Uncover Heart Disease in Women

Today, there is a new tool that is earning its place alongside standard risk factors in determining a woman’s chance of developing heart disease. Called a coronary calcium scan, this CT scan of the chest checks for calcium buildup in the coronary arteries.

Calcium in these arteries is a sign of heart disease that can identify the presence of disease before the onset of symptoms. A high score on a calcium scan—reflecting a large amount of calcium in the walls of the arteries—can mean that you have a higher chance of having a heart attack than someone with a low score. For example, the score helps to determine if you are at low, intermediate or high risk for a cardiac event, like a heart attack, in the next few years.

Although everyone should follow a lifestyle that is heart healthy, including exercising, eating better and quitting smoking, making these changes often is difficult. The results of a coronary calcium scan can be a helpful reminder that the time to make these changes is now.

A calcium scan can give your doctor more information about your risk for heart disease. A high score might prompt your doctor to start or change treatment to help you avoid a heart attack. Your calcium score and general risk factor assessment also can help determine your vascular age (age of your arteries). For example a 50-year-old female with a high coronary calcium score, high cholesterol and a family history of heart disease would have a vascular age of a 70-year-old female without such risk factors.

“A vascular age is a helpful tool for patients, that makes it easier for them to grasp how serious their condition is,” says Johns Hopkins cardiologist Pamela Ouyang, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Women’s Cardiovascular Health Center.

Risk Assessments*

“A risk assessment is a preventative measure to find out if you need to improve your heart health,” says Dr. Ouyang. It takes about one hour and your course of follow-up treatment depends on the initial assessment.

You should obtain a risk assessment if you have:

*During a risk assessment, not all patients will receive a coronary calcium scan. It will depend on the amount of risk factors you have and how significant they are, for example, women with more than a few risk factors or those with a very high risk factor will receive a scan.

Editorial provided by Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

Home    Featured Programs    Choose Local Area     Request Information
A JR Media Publication • www.jrmediallc.comSite Index