CARDIOLOGY | PREVENTIVE
Coronary CT Angiograms
Cardiac and coronary CT angiograms provide images that allow the doctor to assess your risk for heart disease. When it comes to cardiovascular health, you have to be aware of your heart. Your body gives you signs way before the onset of heart disease or heart attack. You will start feeling sluggish; you may experience shortness of breath. Some people begin to have chest pain and numbness. Yearly physicals are extremely important. It is during a physical that a lot of heart problems are diagnosed. Getting a cardiac or CT coronary angiogram can help prevent serious heart problems.
The heart cannot function without blood vessels. Sometimes we put emphasis on heart health and think it is only about the heart. A lot of heart problems result from blood vessel issues. There are three types of blood vessels: capillaries, veins, and arteries. Arteries are the source of most of the problems as it relates to blood flow. When your blood vessels are hardened, they become narrow. This narrowing prevents the heart from getting enough blood. The vessels may also become clogged. The fat from the foods we eat get stuck in the blood vessels and clog them up. The more fat that gets stuck, the less blood the heart receives. These are the things that create heart disease and cause a heart attack. There are ways to prevent you from getting to this point.
Types of CT scans
There are three different ways in which a CT scan is administered. The first method is calcium-score screening heart scan. The point of this test is to exam calcium deposits that may be causing stenosis in the blood vessels. This test is one way that doctors can diagnose atherosclerosis early. Total body CT scans are the next method. This method is more of a preventative method for possible future problems. The scan helps to identify likely problems before you experience symptoms. A total body scan does not focus strictly on the heart and arteries, but the lungs and abdomen as well. Through this scan, the doctor can see aneurysms, calcium deposits, and plaque. The coronary CT angiogram is not invasive, and it allows the doctor to see the heart in action. The image that is also produced helps the doctor see fatty deposits and calcium deposits.
Coronary angiograms are used in conjunction with computerized tomography or what we call a CT scan. Coronary angiograms are not given to everyone, but it is given to those who are at a high risk of heart disease and heart attack. If you are showing symptoms, a doctor may schedule a coronary angiogram right away. CT coronary angiograms are better than a regular coronary angiogram. With the normal coronary angiogram, a doctor must thread a catheter through the blood vessels. While the catheter is being threaded, the doctor is examining the blood vessels and the build-up in the coronary artery. A CT coronary angiogram uses X-rays combined with a computer to show a visual image of the heart and coronary artery.
Coronary CT Angiogram Procedure
The first step of the test is the insertion of contrast dye intravenously. If you are allergic to contrast dye, the doctor will use something else that allows them to see the vessels. Sometimes the doctor will administer medication that slows the heart rate down just enough for the doctor to get a good picture. The test is very short. It only takes about 10 minutes to do. The doctor uses an X-ray machine to get images of the heart. The X-rays are sent to a scanner that projects images for the physician to see. This test does not have nearly as many risks because it is non-invasive.
Risks of CT Angiogram
The risks of CT coronary angiograms are minimal. Normal coronary angiograms require a small incision for the insertion of a catheter. A CT coronary angiogram does not require any incisions at all. Although there is no cutting, you are exposed to radiation. The X-ray machine projects radiation in different amounts depending on the machine used. Radiation exposure is a risk in itself. Too much radiation can cause cancer. The risk of cancer is very low. It is extremely rare for you to get cancer after one X-ray. Another risk is an allergic reaction from the dye given to you before the test. As stated earlier, some people are allergic to contrast dye. If you know that beforehand, it will not be given to you, but some people are unaware. If you are unsure and think you may be allergic, let that be known in the beginning. If you are pregnant, you cannot undergo the procedure because the X-rays can harm your unborn child. Make sure to tell the doctor if you are pregnant and they can do another procedure.
CT coronary angiograms are a great tool for those who are at risk of heart disease and heart attack. Paying attention to your heart health is important. It is not enough to know your risks and do nothing about it. If your heart is suffering, it is time to make some changes. Do what you can to get your heart healthy again. You will be happy you did.
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