November 18, 2014 – Heart Assessment
Anchor lead: Which tests can assess whether you have blockages in your heart’s blood vessels? Elizabeth Tracey reports
Even a small amount of blockage in the heart’s blood vessels may be risky, a recent study concluded. Michael Blaha, a preventive cardiology expert at Johns Hopkins, says two non-invasive tests are very good at assessing this issue.
Blaha: There’s two tests that can look at plaque at its earliest stages. One can get a calcium score, which looks at calcified plaque, and that’s really good for people who are asymptomatic to try to figure out if they’re really at risk for a heart attack. People who have symptoms can get a CT angiogram, which gives similar pictures. Now that we know that patients who have early plaque, even if it’s not a blockage, are at increased risk, what we should do is start treating these such patients aggressively, and that means medications like an aspirin and a statin, as well as should undergo lifestyle intervention. :30
Lifestyle interventions would include weight loss and regular exercise, which Blaha says is known to help even those with existing atherosclerosis. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.