Study: CT Scans Better Predictor of Heart Disease

A study published in Radiology and highlighted on TIME’s Healthland finds that coronary CT angiography (CCTA) may be a better predictor of heart attack risk than cholesterol tests and blood pressure readings. While cholesterol tests and blood pressure readings may overlook heart problems, CCTA can help to predict risk amongst patients who are suspected of having coronary artery disease.

CCTA is less invasive than its imaging alternative, coronary angiogram. It requires no incisions and relies on X-rays to capture detailed pictures of the heart’s vessels.

The study focused on 5,262 patients who underwent CCTA and did not show the usual risk factors for heart disease, but rather were suspected of potential risk of heart problems.  While these patients did not meet the current guidelines for performing regular cardiac CT, the inclusion of the patients proved to be valuable and informative.  A two-year follow-up showed that 104 patients who did not possess standard risk factors experienced a major adverse cardiovascular event. Had it not been for the study, most of these cases would have likely gone undetected or untreated.

Coronary artery disease continues to be difficult for cardiologists to assess, but CT is proven to be a good first line test to identify whether patients are no risk or high risk. CT scans could raise necessary red flags, when other signs might not exist.

For more information on CT angiography, please see this article written by Dr. Karen Ordovas.