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Great River Medical Center Offers Advanced Test for Heart Disease

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Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men, women, and people of most racial and ethnic groups in the U.S. Early detection is important to successfully treating and possibly reversing the condition. To help identify potential heart disease, Great River Medical Center offers cardiac calcium scoring, a painless, safe and accurate test that estimates a patient’s heart attack risk by measuring (scoring) calcium buildup in the coronary arteries.

“Cardiac calcium scoring is a more powerful predictor of heart disease episodes than cholesterol screening,” said radiologist Steven Davis, MD, medical director of Great River Medical Center’s Diagnostic Imaging Department. “The information it provides can give patients the opportunity to seek treatment and make appropriate changes.”

During cardiac calcium scoring testing, patients lie on their backs, and they are scanned in a computed tomography (CT) unit. Images of the heart are taken while the patient holds his or her breath for about 20 seconds. Special cardiac-scoring software measures the amount of calcium in coronary arteries. The examination doesn’t involve injections, treadmills or any other preparation, such as fasting. It is beneficial if patients avoid caffeine for at least four hours before the test.

Radiologists interpret the information and send the results to the patient’s health care provider within a week after the test. The provider’s office will contact the patient about the test results.

A referral from a provider is required for cardiac calcium scoring. People who are interested should talk to their providers.

The cost of the screening is just $49, which includes the test and radiologist’s report. Payment is required by the time of the test.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease. About half of Americans have at least one of these three risk factors

Several other medical conditions and lifestyle choices can also put people at a higher risk for heart disease, including:

  • Diabetes
  • High-stress way of life
  • Overweight by 20 percent or more
  • Sedentary way of life