My score was zero

You're in, you're out --this test was a snap!Recently, I got scanned. Actually what I got was a Coronary CT or Computer Tomography heart scan. My doctor recommended it, and it was a breeze. The test takes about seven minutes, and the only advance preparation is forgoing caffeine for four hours before the test. What it does is impressive. It evaluates your risk for heart disease.

“This is the only test that can tell you for sure if you have a buildup of plaque in your arteries,” says Dr. Szilard Voros, the Chief Scientific Officer and Medical Director of CV MRCT and Prevention and Wellness at
PiedmontHospital in Atlanta. “All the other tests only tell you maybe. This is exact.”
It detects a build up of plaque by looking for calcified plaque. This is an indicator of early artery calcification before symptoms arise. If there is any calcium, the computer program will calculate a total score based the number of deposits found. Then if necessary your doctor can order more tests and plan treatment.
My score was zero. As heart disease runs in my family, I was relieved. Many women are still unaware that that more women die of heart disease than breast cancer. Women are actually five times more likely to die of heart disease than breast cancer. There are many factors that go into preventing heat disease: diet, exercise, stress –and not smoking. But knowing your risk is important too. Dr. Voros also emphasized that the test has very low radiation exposure. It is equal to less than two mammograms and it costs the same as my hair appointment. (In the U.S. the initial test is not covered by my insurance. In many places you can call and book it yourself without a doctor’s orders. I did. I paid $125 at The Fuqua Cardiovascular Imaging Center at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta. I highly recommend it. They return the score in 48 hours too – great for us nervous type A personalities. If your score is zero, there is no need to repeat the test annually.
Be sure to check the cost of your test as it varies. More importantly, ask about the type of equipment that will be used. Allison Drew, my technician told me the machine used on me was a Toshiba Aquilion One 320 Slice. This is a new device that can diagnoses accurately with the lowest radiation possible. It is as important to be sure you are being tested with a new low-radiation machine as it is to get the test itself.
Darlings, be smart, protect your heart. Discuss getting a CT Coronary scan with your doctor soon and know your heart health score. Don’t let ignorance send you to the ER with a “broken” heart. And remember, for any test involving imaging, always ask about the radiation and equipment. You deserve the best and safest. Life is too sweet to cut short.
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Gracey Hitchcock
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