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Cardiac CT Scan for Calcium
Old 12-19-2012, 06:39 AM   #1
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Cardiac CT Scan for Calcium

GroupOn has a deal today for, all of all things, a cardiac CT scan to detect the level of calcification. $19; supposedly a $499 value. DH is all psyched about this. I'm not sure it's worth being exposed to radiation and not sure what could be done if calcification is shown. We already eat well and exercise.

Opinions?
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Old 12-19-2012, 06:54 AM   #2
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We had it done a couple of years ago at our doctor's request. Not covered by insurance, but the full retail cost was only $99 so that may not be as big a discount as they claim.

My understanding is that the amount of calcification in your coronary arteries will give you an idea of whether you're at no, low, medium, or high risk. That's pretty much it -- a fairly blunt instrument.
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Old 12-19-2012, 09:44 AM   #3
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My doc recommended this to me.... I will be doing it early next year...


From what he said, it is a better indicator of heart problems than a stress test....
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Old 12-19-2012, 12:27 PM   #4
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I would definetely get one . My Brother died of heart disease in his early 50's and my sister who is thin,exercises daily & eats right just had a heart attack.
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Old 12-19-2012, 01:57 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by braumeister View Post
We had it done a couple of years ago at our doctor's request. Not covered by insurance, but the full retail cost was only $99 so that may not be as big a discount as they claim.

My understanding is that the amount of calcification in your coronary arteries will give you an idea of whether you're at no, low, medium, or high risk. That's pretty much it -- a fairly blunt instrument.
I could have written this post. Exactly what I paid. My father had his first (of 5) heart attacks at 45 years old so it was worth the peace of mind to me.
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Old 12-19-2012, 06:25 PM   #6
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A asked a cardiologist friend and he said that calcium test was a good one to get if you are concerned. Eating well and exercising is great but sometimes there are other factors, such as who you were born to.
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Old 12-20-2012, 05:51 AM   #7
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What do you do with the results?

Change your eating habits/exercise? I know I should already be doing that - and I have but there is always room for improvement?

Is the correlation between the results and heart attacks firmly established?
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Old 12-20-2012, 07:31 AM   #8
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Both my doc and the cardiologist said taking statins would be the next step for me, since I already get plenty of cardio exercise.

I can't quantify the correlation. When I looked into it, it seemed to be the most accurate. It detects buildup in the arteries early. I don't know enough about the heart to know how likely you are to have a heart attack without clogged arteries, which this test wouldn't catch.
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Old 12-20-2012, 09:19 AM   #9
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I don't know enough about the heart to know how likely you are to have a heart attack without clogged arteries, which this test wouldn't catch.
Calcium is part of the plaque buildup that clogs the arteries.
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Old 12-20-2012, 09:35 AM   #10
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Is $19 the FULL charge? Might there be a (higher, much higher) charge for "reading" the test?

I considered having one when I decided not to take statins due to side effects, which I now believe I shouldn't have even been prescribed statins. Dr. presented it to me as an option. My overall risk is 2%. So I just decided not to go there. I basically know what I "should do" to optimize my health: exercise more, eat more healthy foods. I don't do too badly, but there is always room for improvement.

So for you/your dh, I would ask... what is your risk factor right now for heart attack? Will you work diligently towards improving your risk if the results indicate you should? If you already know that you have some/lots of room to improve (i.e. diet, exercise, quit smoking, lose wt, etc) then, really, you don't need a test result to get started ... "just do it".
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Old 12-20-2012, 10:45 AM   #11
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Cash price at my hospital five years ago was about $300. My HMO had agreed to pay for it, then decided they hadn't approved, resulting in a bill of $2,500. Fortunately, I appealed with a copy of their approval and the bill went away. The good news was I had zero calcium.
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Old 12-20-2012, 01:48 PM   #12
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Thanks for your replies. You convinced me to go for it. I can be cheap, but it seemed worth $38 for me and DH to get it done---much less expensive both financially and physically than a heart attack.

Seems to be on the up and up. Fine print says that married couples must redeem at the same time---what's up with that? Must be between 45 and 72 years of age. No metallic implants. Max weight 320 pounds. Under 6'4". Includes a consultation with the doctor who reads it and drafts a letter about it to your doctor.
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Old 01-10-2013, 01:00 PM   #13
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Had it done yesterday---will post about the experience later and what they wanted to upsell us.

My results were perfect. A score of 0, meaning I have absolutely no plaque.

My husband, on the other hand, even though thin, exercising daily, and eating a healthy vegetarian diet tested as having more plaque than 88% of men 55 to 59 years old---and a score of 450, meaning a very high risk.

He is ending the info to the cardiologist. We'll see if he has to take statins. Very discouraged and a little frightened....
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Old 01-10-2013, 02:25 PM   #14
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If it might help, here's another thought for your DH:

When I had my calcium score done a couple of years ago, it was over 350 total (they should have broken it down by area, but it's simplest to deal with a total score). My doc told me that it might or might not indicate a current problem. He said sometimes there is some calcification due to a situation at a much younger age, and since it never goes away, it might not be a cause for concern at all.

Your doc might suggest a coronary CT scan. Considerably more expensive, and probably won't give you any more information than you already have, but it's definitely worth spending some time listening to your cardiologist. Still, you might not have as much to worry about as you think you do.
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Old 01-10-2013, 02:51 PM   #15
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I wouldn't get too discouraged until DH has a chance to meet with his cardiologist and I suspect the cardiologist will do some further tests, probably a stress echo cardiogram which can tell alot. Anyway, taking a statin is not the end of the world if it comes to that.
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Old 01-11-2013, 02:14 PM   #16
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Thanks, Brau and DFW---you've made me feel a little better. We will see what the cardiologist says on the 24th.
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Old 01-11-2013, 04:09 PM   #17
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An answer to the question of how a thin vegetarian who exercises a lot could develop heart disease can be found in the book, "Prevent and reverse heart disease" by Caldwell Esselstyn.
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Old 03-24-2016, 05:22 AM   #18
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I found this old thread and decided to revive it to share my recent calcium score that currently has me in panic mode. My scan was last Friday and I got the results yesterday showing a composite score of 1057 putting me in the greater than 95 percentile for men my age (59) and an extreme risk.
I haven't spoken to my doctor yet, but hopefully will soon. My diet is not bad, but I can tweak it some. I've been taking red yeast rice, a natural stating for years, but I expect to be put on Lipitor or something similar once my doctor reviews these results. I'll be stepping up my exercise routine as best as I can with my next and lower back issues. My weight is good and I've never smoked.
Does anyone have any experience with such a high cardiac calcium score? Or should I just start planing for a quadruple bypass one of these days?



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Old 03-24-2016, 06:04 AM   #19
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Hi Dash man - first of all, don't panic. This is not a death sentence, nor a guarantee that you're headed for a bypass or a heart attack, but your risk is higher than most your age, so it definitely deserves attention. Panicing will cause other reactions in your body that will make this worse, not better. In my opinion, ignorance is not bliss, and therefore I feel it is GOOD that you found out about your elevated score, because now you have an opportunity to change things because you know about them. Your first goal here is to reduce the rate of growth of your plaque. From there, we try to stabilize it - stable plaque is much less prone to rupture than soft, pliable, "dynamic" plaque. Completely stabilized plaque is almost as good as no plaque, but some (not many) are actually able to regress that plaque and lower their score that way.

First, what I've learned not to do, and let me preface that I am not a doctor and am not giving medical advice - just sharing my experience. If you're asymptomatic, i.e., no chest pain, shortness of breath, etc., I would NOT get any invasive test like a coronary catheterization - the risk is not warranted. I would NOT get a Thallium or any other kind of nuclear stress test - the huge radiation dose is not warranted. These are tests a doctor or cardiologist might recommend for you and you could end up with an unnecessary stent - don't get me wrong, stents can be life-saving, but are not indicated if you have no symptoms. Again, my (and many "preventive" cardiologists') opinion. The only stress test I might agree to is a non-invasive, echocardiogram.

What TO DO: You need to figure out the cause of your plaque so that a strategy can be devised (and there are many) to attack it. This involves some advanced bloodwork - specifically advanced lipoprotein analysis. Your doctor may or may not be willing to order these tests. The good news is there are plenty of doctors out there who will, and better news is you can order them by yourself without a doctor at all. When I started my journey in this area six years ago, I had to find a new doctor. The guy I had seen for 20 years, and who I personally liked very much, did not know what to do with my elevated CAC score, and his answer was "statin and monitor". That is not necessarily a good strategy and for me would have yielded disastrous results.

So Dash man, the choice is yours - you can be proactive and self-empowered, and begin to focus on a lot of things yourself, but I will tell you that it takes some work and takes some time. Some folks just don't want to invest that way and prefer to relegate their healthcare to their local doctor. It's all a choice man - and I totally respect everyone's right to choose!

I can help point you to names of specific tests, etc. that you could ask your doctor about. Could also point you to many other resources - just kinda trying to gauge your interest in how you want to tackle this.

But please, don't panic!
Pete
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Old 03-24-2016, 06:27 AM   #20
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My PCP wants me to go se my cardiologist, so any suggestions of tests to ask about would be great. I'm not really in panic mode, just concerned and trying to figure out what to do. I want to avoid surgery if possible and any more radiation than necessary. Thanks for your input!


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