Heart scan may predict mortality risk over 15 years

New York, July 7 (IANS) A simple x-ray test that looks for early signs of coronary artery disease could help doctors identify if you are at risk of dying over the next 15 years, says a new study.

Coronary artery calcification (CAC) scans could help physicians identify patients at risk for premature death, the findings showed.

CAC is an x-ray test that looks for specks of calcium in the walls of the coronary arteries. These specks of calcium are called calcifications and are an early sign of coronary artery disease.

“These findings give us a better understanding of the importance of coronary calcium scans to predict mortality,” said lead researcher Leslee Shaw, professor of cardiology at Emory University School of Medicine in the US.

For the study, the researchers collected and assessed CAC scores and risk factor data taken from 9,715 study participants between the years 1996 and 1999.

The patients showed no symptoms of coronary artery disease at the time of the scans.

Researchers found that the CAC score accurately predicted all-cause mortality up to 15 years in the asymptomatic patients.

“Patients with high calcium scores might be advised by their physicians to adopt healthier lifestyles, which could lead to better outcomes and potentially help lengthen their lives,” Shaw pointed out.

The study appeared online in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

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