Could a simple 10-minute screening save your life?
There's good news & bad news in the fight against heart disease.
First, the bad news:
Most of us learn we have heart disease only after a cardiac event or, worse, our family finds out after our death. Six out of 10 of us who die from heart disease are under 65 years of age. More of us die each year from heart disease and stroke than all cancers combined.
Now, for the good news:
It doesn’t have to be that way!
Each year in the US, close to 50 million mammograms and colonoscopies are performed.
Yes, because we know that early detection saves lives. The sooner we can diagnose, intervene and provide treatment, the better the outcomes and the opportunities to increase the number of women and men who survive.
Since heart disease is the number one killer of women and men, wouldn’t this approach to early detection be just as critical in saving lives?
From the day you are born until around age 20, good nutrition, exercise and smoking/drug avoidance are key in the prevention of heart disease. Between the ages of 20 and 40, knowing your risk factors and modifying your lifestyle to manage those is vital to reduce future risk of heart attack or stroke.
Once you are over the age of 40, it’s time that you test, not guess, to determine your risk for heart disease. Talk to your doctor about your risk factors and take the next step!
Today, there is a tool to help detect heart disease at its earliest stages: Coronary Artery Calcium Scan.
Think of it like a “mammogram for your heart.”
Through the use of computed tomography (also known as CT), physicians can determine if there is build-up of calcium in the arteries of your heart. Hiding under that calcification could be soft plaque, which could mean heart disease, and, if it ruptures, a heart attack. Since most heart attacks occur with as little as a 50% blockage, early detection is key!
For those of us who have a heart attack before the age of 65, studies show that 80% of us don’t survive the first one. How many of the 610,000 women and men we lose each year to heart disease be saved each year if we could get to them before the heart attack or stroke?
Asymptomatic* women age 55+ or men age 45+
Women or men, at least 40 years of age, with any of the following risk factors. Sadly, here in the US, this means most of us over the age of 40 probably qualifies!
family history of early heart disease
high or borderline high blood pressure
high or borderline high cholesterol
Diabetes or pre-diabetes
Smoking, former smoker, second-hand smoke
Obese or BMI >30
Who qualifies for a CAC scan?
* This screening is intended for those not experiencing symptoms.
Please seek immediate medical attention if you are having symptoms.
For some, knowing your Coronary Calcium Score can give you peace of mind. It means you keep following your plan of prevention through good nutrition, fitness and managing any risk factors your doctor has identified.
For those with scores that indicate an increased risk for heart disease, your health care provider can recommend a plan of prevention to help you slow the progression of the disease.
Through the early detection, intervention and treatment of heart disease, we can reduce the number of women and men dying prematurely from this largely preventable disease.
New guidelines from American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology suggests that a coronary artery calcium scan could prove beneficial when deciding if a statin or aspirin therapy is appropriate.
If you are over 40 years of age, talk to your doctor about getting your calcium score.
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