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And the heart scan shows...

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A simple heart scan can predict early death.

The coronary artery calcification (CAC) scan, an X-ray test that looks for specks of calcium in the walls of coronary arteries, is helping physicians identify patients at risk. These specks, or calcifications, are an early indicator of coronary heart disease. Led by cardiologist Leslee Shaw, researchers from Emory’s School of Medicine collected CAC scores and risk factor data from more than 9,700 volunteers between 1996 and 1999. All participants were scanned as part of a community-outreach screening program at an outpatient clinic in Nashville. None showed symptoms of coronary artery disease at the time.

The findings, published in the July 7 online issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, showed that CAC scores accurately predicted premature death from all causes up to 15 years in advance, in patients without any symptoms. "This gives us a better understanding of the importance of coronary calcium scans," Shaw says. "Patients with high calcium scores might be advised by their physicians to adopt healthier lifestyles, which could lead to better outcomes and help lengthen their lives."

Related Resources

"Simple heart scan may help identify patients at risk for premature death" (7/12/2015)

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