Heart Risk in Focus with Help from Beam
A new high-speed X-ray beam proves a more accurate measure of heart disease risk than traditional factors such as high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, obesity, smoking or diabetes, a new study has found. "Electron beam-computed tomography" can measure calcium deposits in heart arteries, but conventional CT scans can't.
The study by researchers at the Cooper Institute, a not-for-profit research center in Dallas, includes more than 1,133 men and women with an average age of 54. Researchers sought to find out whether EBCT scans, which typically cost $400 to $500, improve the assessment of heart disease risk beyond what a physician can learn from risk factors. Lead author Dr. Ming Wei says looking at risk factors and the X-ray increase ability to assess heart disease risk.
The X-ray beam provides another avenue to study because the more calcium you have in your heart arteries, the more likely you are to have heart disease.
Because EBCT obtains high-resolution images quickly, the pictures are not blurred, as they are with conventional scans. So EBCT can locate deposits in heart arteries that have calcified, showing how extensive that calcification is.
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