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Best use for popular CAD assessment procedure is misunderstood
Date:4/14/2008

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (April 14, 2008) What is the best way to determine if you are developing the nations most deadly condition, coronary artery disease (CAD)"

An increasing number of doctors are encouraging patients especially those deemed to be at high-risk for developing CAD to undergo a non-invasive imaging procedure called coronary computed tomography angiography, or coronary CTA, to see if plaque deposits are accumulating in their arteries.

According to Dr. Christopher M. Kramer, a professor of Radiology and Medicine at the University of Virginia Health System, widespread use of CTA for screening purposes may be inappropriate. There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding about CTA. People need to know that it is not intended to be a screening test, he says.

In a recent article in Circulation, Dr. Kramer asserted that doctors should not order coronary CTA to assess every high-risk patient. This procedure exposes people to radiation and contrast dye, both of which can have adverse affects, he notes. When individuals dont have symptoms of CAD, such as chest pain, coronary CTA may pose more risk than benefit.

Nationally, much study and debate surrounds the use and clinical value of coronary CTA as a screening tool. Medicare reimbursement is also under review. Currently, all 50 states provide Medicare coverage when coronary CTA is performed on patients with symptoms, but U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has expressed uncertainty about its benefits. CMS recently postponed implementation of more stringent coverage limits for coronary CTA until further research is completed.

Coronary CTA has been gaining in popularity because it is a fast and relatively inexpensive way to see exactly how much plaque has accumulated in arteries that supply blood to the heart. It is the only noninvasive test that shows what kinds of plaque are building up either the hard, calcified type or soft, fatty deposits
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Contact: Ellen McKenna
ecm6n@virginia.edu
434-982-4490
University of Virginia Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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