We are so thankful that our partner, Dr. Sundeep Viswanathan at Aurora Denver Cardiology Associates shared this very important information on with us!
Heart disease continues to be the number one killer among both women and men in the U.S., but many women brush off atypical heart attack symptoms like epigastric pain, shortness of breath, lightheadedness and extreme fatigue as benign or part of aging. The truth is that signs of a heart attack are often subtle and, if left untreated, can have deadly consequences.
While you already know mammograms help find breast cancer in its earliest stages, a new study shows that your routine mammogram can actually help identify your risk of coronary heart disease — a much more common and deadly disease for women. The study revealed that coronary calcification can be incidentally seen on a mammogram, a sign of calcium buildup in the coronary arteries that may increase your risk of developing heart disease or a heart attack. If a mammogram shows early warning signs of dangerous calcium buildup, a calcium-scoring scan can help evaluate your risk of future cardiac complications.
What does the scan involve?
A coronary calcium scan screens asymptomatic patients to identify if you should take further steps to avoid a sudden heart attack. Quick and painless, the scan captures images of the heart and surrounding arteries using x-ray technology. Calcium scoring takes just five minutes and doesn’t use needles or contrast dye; think of it as getting a mammogram of your heart.
What do my results mean?
The coronary calcium scan is just one way to identify your risk of heart disease. Others include your weight, a family history of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. For patients with a high calcium score — and thus a higher risk for coronary heart disease — a nurse practitioner will order labs to screen for diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, as well as schedule a follow-up visit with your doctor. Based on your results, your physician may recommend certain medications and/or lifestyle changes.
While calcium buildup can’t be reversed, early identification can help lower your heart attack risk and help doctors keep a closer eye on your risk in the future.
As with any healthcare concerns, both your cardiologist and primary care physician are always here to answer questions and discuss options. Feel free to give us a call 303-750-0822, learn more about coronary calcium scan testing or make an appointment with any of our Aurora Denver Cardiology Associates physicians today.
** This blog post was written to serve as informational guidance about calcium scoring and should not be taken as concrete medical advice, nor do the views above reflect the views of Aurora Denver Cardiology Associates or the HealthONE organization. As with any medical questions or concerns, it is imperative to make an appointment with your physician for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Sundeep Viswanathan, M.D., FACC prides himself on efficient, evidence-based and compassionate cardiac care. He is board certified in internal medicine, cardiology, echocardiography, nuclear cardiology, cardiac CT and vascular ultrasound.
In addition to publishing numerous book chapters, papers and abstracts, he completed his cardiology fellowship at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, a large-volume tertiary hospital ranked in the top 10 nationally for cardiac care. In his free time, Dr. Viswanathan is enjoying married life with his new wife, Emily. He enjoys traveling, hiking, camping and running.