Coronary Heart Disease - Type of Test

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Do you have coronary heart disease? Which of the tests mentioned in the article did the doctor use to diagnose you?

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Are there other tests for coronary heart disease that are noninvasive?

CT scanning

A new noninvasive test for the detection of coronary heart disease is electron beam computerized tomography (EBCT), or calcium scoring. Unlike the above mentioned stress tests that measure the heart's physiology, EBCT is designed to measure calcium deposits in the coronary arteries.

In individuals with coronary heart disease, the plaques which make up the blockages contain significant amounts of calcium, which can be detected with the CT scanner and the amount of blockage is calculated by calcium scoring. This test will identify calcium in blockages as mild as 10%-20%, which would not be detected by standard physiological testing. When such mild blockages are detected, however, the only recommended therapy is risk factor modification (cholesterol lowering and cessation of smoking if applicable), and adjunctive use of aspirin and certain vitamins; such therapy would be advised in all persons with risk factors for coronary heart disease, regardless of the results of any noninvasive tests.

Calcium scoring may be very helpful in convincing people to change their lifestyle or take their medicines, as a score that is not zero implies that the blockage process is starting, and likely will progress unless lifestyle changes are made. It is important to realize that calcification is a function of age, and in younger people (men under 50, women under 60) the calcium score is less helpful when low.

A more elaborate modality is CT angiography (ultrafast CT). This is a non-invasive (no catheter involved) form of angiogram, but still involves dye exposure and radiation, and is less precise than a coronary angiogram. This is still a rather new modality, and its role is still being defined.

Return to Coronary Heart Disease Screening Tests (CAD)

See what others are saying

Comment from: Angioplasty, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: August 25

I had no problem with the test for coronary artery disease. Two stents were inserted and I was released from the hospital 10 hours later.

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Comment from: rhender, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: January 12

I had an abnormal EKG, inverted T waves. Stress test was normal, (went to 170 Heart rate) and I also had an echocardiogram. Doctor thinks she sees a blockage, but I have no chest pain nor have I noticed shortness of breath. I exercise 5 days a week. However I do not have a lot of energy and get tired easily. I am not sure what the next step is.

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