In the recent issue Circulation, a new method for detecting heart disease was discussed. This may offer hope for those with a family history of heart disease. Scientists at Michigan University and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN discovered that by administering calcium to patients may allow doctors to detect blocked arteries for people who show no symptoms of disease. This is a non-evasive way for doctors to detect heart disease early.
This is a fifteen minute test, called electron beam computed tomography (EBCT) test which detects calcium in arteries. Originally this test was used for patients already experiencing symptoms of heart disease, but researchers have discovered this EBCT test can be used for those not experiencing heart disease and is very effective. A study was tested on both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients and the results were seventy percent accurate.
You might be wondering how the EBCT works? This test measures the calcium buildup or deposits in artery plaque. Plaque in the arteries will block blood flow and eventually can lead to coronary artery disease (CAD). Coronary arteries supply your heart with blood and oxygen. A complete blockage in one of these arteries can cause a heart attack. Calcium seems to adhere to plaque in the arteries so scientists have determined that the more calcium detected by the EBCT test means more plaque in the arteries and the more advanced CAD a person could have. If patients of 50 years or older scoring 200 or more and patients younger than 50 years old scoring 100 or more could have early onset CAD. This applies for both men and women.
If you suspect that you have CAD, here are some simple signs and symptoms to look for. One symptom is chest pain, do you feel tightness or pressure in your chest as if someone is pressing against your chest or standing on it? This sort of pain is usually triggered by physical or emotional stress. The pain goes away when you stop the stressful activity. This pain may feel sharp extending to your abdomen, back and/or arms.
Second symptom you may experience is shortness of breath. This happens when your heart can not pump enough blood to supply the body's needs. You could experience heart failure - shortness of breath can be followed by extreme fatigue, and swelling of the feet and angles.
Thirdly and worst is heart attack, this happens when the arteries are completely blocked. Symptoms may vary but usually consist of terrible chest pain, pain in shoulders and arms, followed by shortness of breath. Women tend to experience other warning signs like nausea, back and/or jaw pain. Occasionally heart attacks display no symptoms.
If you have a family history of heart attacks, early detection is recommended. When one goes for regular screenings, most doctors use one of the following electrocardiogram (ECG), echocardiogram, angiogram, electron beam computerized tomography (EBCT), magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), or perform a stress test.
When a heart attack occurs, the heart is damaged and it is irreversible. Its best to take steps to change your life style such as quitting smoking, monitoring and controlling blood pressure, get regular cholesterol checks, keep diabetes under control, exercise regularly, manage stress levels, maintain a healthy weight level, and above all eat healthy foods. Nutritionists suggest taking a multiple vitamin on a regular basis to help support your healthy diet. If you are looking for a good multiple vitamin, stick with name brand vitamins that supply a full spectrum of natural ingredients, stay away form synthetic brands. All natural multiple vitamins can be found at your local or internet health food store.
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