"A new study of six methods of determining a patient’s risk for heart disease has shown a CT scan of calcium build-up in the arteries around the heart might be the most accurate test.
The new study from researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina reviewed the effectiveness of six different heart disease indicators, including coronary calcium buildup (CAC), blood pressure in the arms and legs, carotid artery thickness, blood vessel health and family history of heart disease.
According to lead researcher Joseph Yeboah, any of these indicators could help improve the current standard of heart disease prediction, known as the Framingham Risk Score (FRS).
“We know how to treat patients at low and high risk for heart disease, but for the estimated 28 million Americans who are at intermediate risk, we still are not certain about the best way to proceed,” he explained in a news release.
“If we want to concentrate our attention on the subset of intermediate-risk patients who are at the highest risk for cardiovascular disease, CAC is clearly the best tool we have in our arsenal to identify them.”
I would be very cautious before jumping to order this test for my patients. First of all, the amount of radiation exposure is not insignificant. Second, how frequently do you have to have to test to watch for progression of disease. And, third, in my experience the coronary lesions with the most calcium tend to be the most stable plaques and much less likely to rupture and cause Acute Coronary Syndrome (a heart attack).