New Ways to Test for Heart Disease


Reprint of an article by Robert Palmer from the Article Codex website,


Introduction by Dr. Don Rose, Writer, Life Alert




Calcium is not just a great supplement for maintaining health; a new discovery now enables doctors to use calcium to diagnose our health, too. The article below discusses this technique, called the electron beam computed tomography (EBCT) test -- a non-invasive method for early heart disease detection. This article also provides useful information about coronary artery disease and heart attacks. --Don Rose




In a recent issue of Circulation, a new method for detecting heart disease was discussed. This may offer hope for those with a family history of heart disease. Scientists at Michigan University and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN discovered that administering calcium to patients may allow doctors to detect blocked arteries for people who show no symptoms of disease. This is a non-invasive way for doctors to detect heart disease early.


This is a fifteen minute test, called the electron beam computed tomography (EBCT) test, which detects calcium in arteries. Originally this test was used for patients already experiencing symptoms of heart disease, but researchers have discovered this EBCT test can be used for those not experiencing heart disease and is very effective. A study was tested on both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients and the results were seventy percent accurate.


You might be wondering how the EBCT works. This test measures the calcium buildup or deposits in artery plaque. Plaque in the arteries will block blood flow and eventually can lead to coronary artery disease (CAD). Coronary arteries supply your heart with blood and oxygen. A complete blockage in one of these arteries can cause a heart attack. Calcium seems to adhere to plaque in the arteries so scientists have determined that the more calcium detected by the EBCT test means the more plaque in the arteries and the more advanced CAD a person could have. Patients of 50 years or older scoring 200 or more and patients younger than 50 years old scoring 100 or more could have early onset CAD. This applies for both men and women.


If you suspect that you have CAD, here are some simple signs and symptoms to look for. One symptom is chest pain: do you feel tightness or pressure in your chest as if someone is pressing against your chest or standing on it? This sort of pain is usually triggered by physical or emotional stress. The pain goes away when you stop the stressful activity. This pain may feel sharp extending to your abdomen, back and/or arms.


A second symptom you may experience is shortness of breath. This happens when your heart cannot pump enough blood to supply the body’s needs. You could experience heart failure – shortness of breath can be followed by extreme fatigue, and swelling of the feet and ankles.


Thirdly and worst is heart attack, which happens when the arteries are completely blocked. Symptoms may vary but usually consist of terrible chest pain, pain in shoulders and arms, followed by shortness of breath. Women tend to experience other warning signs like nausea, back pain and/or jaw pain. Occasionally heart attacks display no symptoms.


If you have a family history of heart attacks, early detection is recommended. When one goes for regular screenings, most doctors use one of the following: electrocardiogram (ECG), echocardiogram, angiogram, electron beam computerized tomography (EBCT), magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), or a stress test.


When a heart attack occurs, the heart is damaged and it is irreversible. It’s best to take steps to change your lifestyle such as: quit smoking, monitor and control blood pressure, get regular cholesterol checks, keep diabetes under control, exercise regularly, manage stress levels, maintain a healthy weight level, and above all eat healthy foods. Nutritionists suggest taking a multiple vitamin on a regular basis to help support your healthy diet. If you are looking for a good multiple vitamin, stick with name brand vitamins that supply a full spectrum of natural ingredients; stay away from synthetic brands. All natural multiple vitamins can be found at your local or internet health food store.



The article above is covered by a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.5 License. The information provided is, to the best of our knowledge, reliable and accurate. However, while Life Alert always strives to provide true, precise and consistent information, we cannot guarantee 100 percent accuracy. Readers are encouraged to review the original article, and use any resource links provided to gather more information before drawing conclusions and making decisions.


Dr. Don Rose writes books, papers and articles on computers, the Internet, AI, science and technology, and issues related to seniors.

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