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CT Heart Scans No Benefit to Patients Without Symptoms
Date:5/23/2011

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, May 23 (HealthDay News) -- For people who show no symptoms of heart disease, there is little short-term benefit to having their heart vessels scanned for plaque buildup, a new study suggests.

While interesting, new technologies such as CT angiography haven't demonstrated in clinical trials that they are useful for asymptomatic patients. Moreover, CT angiography is not needed to get the best treatment and the best prevention for heart disease, said lead researcher Dr. John W. McEvoy, a heart specialist at Johns Hopkins University.

"In asymptomatic patients, while it makes sense in some respects to want to know if there is any heart disease, studies to date don't demonstrate that knowing whether or not you have coronary disease makes any difference to what can be done to change the outcome," he said.

It's patients with symptoms such as angina or shortness of breath who benefit from such scans and aggressive treatment, McEvoy noted.

"If someone has risk factors for heart disease, but no symptoms, the doctor would be best served by doing a good physical, taking a history and measuring risk factors and treating those risk factors," he said.

"Patients, and everybody in general, tend to think that the new fancy technology may be the best test they can have to know whether or not they have heart disease," he said. "But it doesn't matter whether or not you have mild heart disease, what matters is whether or not you are living a good lifestyle."

This includes reducing blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, eating healthfully, not smoking and staying active, McEvoy said.

The report was published in the May 23 online edition of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

For the study, McEvoy's group collected data on 1,000 patients who had no symptoms of heart disease who underwent CT angiography. These individuals were taking part in a screening p
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