Checking on heart health

Xray imaging to check on heart health.

Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of hospitalisation and death in Australia, claiming on average 21 lives every day. Thousands of Australians remain unaware that they are at high risk of CVD. Often, there are no underlying symptoms, and the first sign is a heart attack or stroke.

The underlying cause of a heart attack is Atherosclerosis – a disease in which plaques that are made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances build up in the walls of the arteries. Over time, this build-up hardens into plaque that can break off at any time and cause a blood clot which can block a coronary artery, and lead to a heart attack.

Over the age of 40, people in general good health have about a 50% chance of developing serious atherosclerosis, with this risk increasing with age. Most people over the age of 60 have some atherosclerosis, but often do not have noticeable symptoms.

Early diagnosis and assessment of cardiovascular risk along with the use of preventive measures are crucial for reducing the risk of heart attacks.

So, is there a test available that can assess your heart health?

Yes. X-Ray and Imaging offers Coronary Artery Calcium Scoring – a simple, quick, and non-invasive low dose CT scan that evaluates the amount of calcified plaque in your heart vessels, providing accurate results for an assessment on your heart health.

You might consider asking your GP to refer you for a Coronary Artery Calcium Scoring if you are over 60 years of age, have a family history of cardiovascular disease, are a current or former smoker, or suffer from diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure or obesity, or simply for your own peace of mind.

The results of the scan can provide an estimate on your risk of a heart attack or stroke within the next five–10 years. The more calcium detected, the higher your risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Your doctor will use the results of the calcium score to determine if you may need further examinations, treatment or lifestyle changes to assess and reduce the risk of a heart attack or other heart problems. This could be done by changes to your diet, exercise, controlling blood pressure and diabetes, ceasing smoking and reducing cholesterol.

Coronary Artery Calcium Scoring is available at X-Ray and Imaging clinics at Maroochydore, Caloundra, Kawana, Coolum and Cooroy clinics at a cost of $150. You will require a referral from your GP.

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