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

and directly reveals if blockages are forming.

From start to finish, the procedure takes about 10 minutes. Preparations begin with an injection of iodine-containing contrast dye into an intravenous (IV) line in the patient's arm. Some patients also receive medication to slow or stabilize their heart rate. During a coronary CTA, doctors use a high-resolution, three-dimensional scanner to take X-rays of a patients beating heart and surrounding blood vessels.

Whether or not patients have symptoms, they are considered to be at high risk for CAD when they have several of the following factors: elevated blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol, excess body weight, diabetes, stress, poor diet and/or lack of proper exercise. Being older, male and having a family history of CAD increases risk levels.

As Dr. Kramer sees it, understanding the best use of coronary CTA will require more time and studies. So far, it has proven useful in three groups: patients with low-to-intermediate CAD risk factors who have chest pain; patients with CAD symptoms and left bundle-branch block a blockage that causes the left ventricle of the heart to contract later than the right ventricle; and, patients preparing for cardiac valve surgery.

Current medical guidelines call for doctors to aggressively treat all patients at high risk for CAD without ordering tests like coronary CTA. According to Dr. Kramer, a CT procedure called calcium scoring, which uses no contrast dye and much less radiation, may be appropriate for screening patients who are at risk for CAD and have not developed symptoms.


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Contact: Ellen McKenna
ecm6n@virginia.edu
434-982-4490
University of Virginia Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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