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February is American Heart Month

Heart Disease - Knowledge is Power

The Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention reports that heart disease is a leading cause of death in the United States, and creates an enormous burden for people, communities, and healthcare providers and systems.  Six million people in the United States have heart failure, one in five people will develop heart failure during their lifetime and heart failure causes nearly 2 hospitalizations every minute.

Early detection is vitally important in the treatment of heart disease.  Peninsula Imaging offers several non-invasive imaging tests to determine the health of your heart:

Cardiac Calcium Scoring – A quick CT scan of the heart, will calculate your risk of developing Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) by measuring the amount of calcified plaque in the coronary arteries.  Calcified plaque occurs when there is an accumulation of fat and other substances under the layer of the arteries.  When this material calcifies it is called atherosclerosis, a disease of the vessel wall.  People meeting the following criteria are at high risk for developing heart disease and would benefit from a cardiac calcium scoring: 

  • Age – men over age 40 and women over age 45
  • High cholesterol
  • History of smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Family history of heart disease
  • High stress levels
  • Diabetes

Your test results will help reveal if you are at risk for heart disease or heart attack.  You will receive a calcium score – the lower the score and percentile rank, the less likely you will develop heart disease or heart attack compared to other men and women in your age group. 

It is important to note that you will need an order from your physician for a cardiac calcium score.  If your insurance does not cover this test, the out-of-pocket cost at our facility is $112.00.

Coronary CTA – Another heart scan using CT is called a Coronary CT Angiogram (CCTA).  A CCTA can provide the earliest possible evidence of developing CAD, the condition that leads to heart attacks.  Additionally, CCTA can also provide reassurance of knowing that your healthy lifestyle is helping to prevent one.  CCTA can discover signs of heart disease that would be invisible in EKG’s, stress testing, calcium scoring and even cardiac catheterization.  Unlike calcium scoring, CCTA can identify what is known as “vulnerable plaque”, the type of arterial plaque most likely to develop into a life-threatening blockage.  CCTA provides much of the information that conventional cardiac catheterization does, however, because of its unique ability to see the wall of the artery, it provides important information that can be invisible on catheterization.  Because CCTA uses CT scanning instead of catheterization, it is safer, painless, and non-invasive (except for an IV).  The scan is completed in less than a minute.

Cardiac MRI – A cardiac MRI is used to capture both still and moving images of the heart and major blood vessels.  It can assess heart function of the heart while it is beating.  Cardiac MRI may be used to assess and diagnose several heart conditions, such as:  congenital heart defects, coronary heart disease, damage from a heart attack, heart failure, heart valve defects and inflammation of the membrane around the heart (pericarditis).  MRI can also detect inflammation and damage caused by COVID-19. 

Discuss your heart disease risk with your physician to see if one of these non-invasive heart procedures would help in keeping your heart healthy!