Know Your Risks: Heart Screenings at Jupiter Medical Center

Beating 100,000 times a day, or 35 million times per year, your heart is a hard-working organ. Each day, your heart pumps blood through an intricate system of blood vessels. The vessels deliver oxygen and nutrients to the tissues throughout the body, and remove carbon dioxide and waste products.

Keeping your heart muscle healthy is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Although much progress has been made in both preventing and treating heart disease, it remains the No. 1 cause of death for both men and women in the United States. While men are more susceptible at an earlier age, a woman’s risk of having a heart attack rises sharply after menopause.

The good news is there is a lot you can do keep your heart strong, to prevent heart disease, and catch early signs of heart disease so you can take action to protect your health. From helping you with lifestyle changes to heart screenings, Jupiter Medical Center is your partner in heart health.

Heart Screenings Offer Peace of Mind

Jupiter Medical Center offers heart screenings to help you and your doctor assess your risk for heart disease. At a cost of $69, heart screens are accessible, affordable and painless. By giving you a better sense of your risk of heart disease, or potentially alerting you to any early signs of heart disease, heart screenings empower you to make the changes that will help you live a long, healthy life.

  • Heart Screenings at Jupiter Medical Center include:
  • Cardiac risk assessment – There are many factors in our lifestyle and family background that can contribute to a higher risk of heart disease. Knowing your risks can help you and your doctor chart a course to optimal, long-term heart health.
  • Blood pressure and heart rate – High blood pressure can put strain on the heart. Keeping your blood pressure under control is important in keeping your heart healthy.
  • Body mass index (BMI) – A measure of height and weight, a high BMI can be a risk factor for heart disease. Losing even a little bit of weight can make a big difference in your heart health over time.
  • Biometric screening – Tests include cholesterol levels and blood glucose, both done with a quick finger prick. High levels of certain types of cholesterol, including low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and triglycerides, typically do not cause symptoms, but can be a risk factor for heart disease. High blood glucose levels may be warning sign of diabetes, which raises the risk of heart disease. Diet, exercise and medications can all help with keeping your cholesterol and blood glucose levels where they should be.
  • EKG – Sensors placed on your skin that detects the electrical activity of your heart. EKGs can detect arrhythmias, or abnormal heart rhythms.
  • Counseling with a health navigator – Our health navigator is a registered nurse who is experienced in helping men and women understand their heart disease risks, and providing individualized guidance on what steps to take to lower risk.

Coronary Computed Tomography Angiography (CCTA): Results In A Heartbeat. 5 To Be Exact.

Coronary computed tomography angiography (CCTA) is a heart imaging test that looks at the structures and blood vessels of the heart. CCTA helps doctors determine if plaque buildup has narrowed the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart. Plaque is made up of various substances such as fat, cholesterol and calcium that deposit along the inner lining of the arteries. Over time, plaque can build up, reducing or even completely block blood flow, potentially causing a heart attack.

  • In the hospital, coronary CT angiograms are used for a variety of purposes, including:
  • In the emergency department to diagnose the cause of chest pain.
  • By cardiologists for patients experiencing what is known as “stable” chest pain. Stable chest pain, or stable angina, is discomfort that occurs with activity or stress.

As previously discussed, CCTA is also used as a screening tool, for people with risk factors for heart disease but who do not yet have symptoms.

Who should have a CCTA screening?

About 5 million people visit an emergency department for chest pain every year. Sometimes that pain, tightness or pressure in your chest is an early warning sign of a serious problem with your heart. But often, heart disease has no symptoms. The first warning sign is the sudden onset of a heart attack.

CCTA can also be used as a screening tool for people not experiencing chest pain symptoms, but who may have risk factors for heart disease. CCTA screening can give your doctor additional information to determine the best course of action to manage the early detection of coronary artery disease. This may include clinical interventions, medications or lifestyle changes.

You should make the decision about whether CCTA screening is right for you with your cardiologist, who will assess your risk factors, including your age, family history, smoking history, and co-existing conditions such as diabetes or very high cholesterol. Your screening test, along with your calcium score, can help determine what treatment is right for you.

Coronary CT Angiography (CCTA) at Jupiter Medical Center

At Jupiter Medical Center, we offer screening coronary CT angiography for $399. While CCTA used in an emergency department or for patients with chest pain symptoms is typically covered by insurance, screening CCTAs for people who are asymptomatic are not.

For more information, call Gail Cooper-Parks, RN, Health Navigator, at (561) 263-4437. If you have an order from your physician, call (561) 263-4414 to schedule an appointment.

Calcium Scoring

When you receive your coronary CT angiography (CCTA) screening, you will also receive what is known as a cardiac calcium score.

Plaque that builds up in the vessels of the heart is made of up numerous substances, including calcium. Your calcium score, also known as coronary artery calcium (CAC) scoring, is a measure of the amount of calcium deposits in the coronary arteries. Research has shown that a calcium score is useful in detecting heart disease, before you experience symptoms.

By understanding your risk of a heart attack, you can make changes or start treatments to prevent to heart disease. If the tests show you already have heart disease, you can begin treatment to prevent it from getting worse.

Test results are given in what is known as an Agatston score. Higher scores indicate a greater area and density of calcium deposits, and a higher risk of a heart attack.

  • A score of zero means you have no calcium in the heart.
  • A score of 11 to 100 means you have some plaque. Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes and other treatments.
  • A score over 100 to 400 means you have moderate plaque, which may be blocking an artery. You’re at a moderate to high risk of having a heart attack or other heart disease in the next several years.
  • A score of over 400 indicates large plaque deposits and serious heart disease. Your odds of having a heart attack are relatively high. Your cardiologist will likely order more tests and will recommend that you start treatment to reduce you risk of a heart attack.

What Should I Expect During my CCTA screening test?

Patients undergoing a CCTA scan receive an iodine-containing contrast material as an intravenous (IV) injection to ensure the best possible images of the heart blood vessels. The scan produces multiple images or pictures of the inside of the body, which are then read by a radiologist.

The process should take about one hour. During the test, you will be alone in the scanner room, but a cardiac technologist will be able to see you and speak to you during the test.

Jupiter Medical Center performs many of these fast, reliable, noninvasive CCTA screening tests every year. Our GE Optima CT scanner offers the latest technology with the lowest possible radiation dose. We are able to acquire and reconstruct data quickly and accurately to detect early, treatable coronary artery disease.

Common Risk Factors for Heart Disease

There are many risk factors for heart disease. Some you can change, and some you don’t have a lot of control over. But knowing what they are can help you get a better idea of what actions you need to take to protect the health of your heart, and continue to enjoy many more years of the activities that matter to you, such as work, travel or hobbies, and most important of all, your friends and family.‚Äč

  • Risk Factors You Can’t Change
  • Family history – If either of your parents or any siblings have a heart attack before age 55 (males) or 65 (females), you may have a genetic predisposition to heart disease.
  • Age – The older we get, the more likely we are to have less elastic, fat-clogged arteries.
  • Gender – While men and women alike develop coronary artery disease, women tend to develop heart disease 10 to 15 years later than men. The average age at which men begin to show symptoms of heart disease is 50 to 60, while for women it’s 60 to 70.
  • Risk Factors You Can Change
  • Smoking – Smokers have twice the risk of a heart attack as non-smokers. Once you stop the use of tobacco, the progression of heart disease caused by cigarette smoking will cease.
  • Cholesterol – Having high cholesterol levels increases your risk for heart disease. Cholesterol levels can be lowered through a combination of exercise, improved eating habits and potentially, medications called statins.
  • Blood Pressure – High blood pressure is another risk factor for heart disease. You can lower your blood pressure by following your prescribed treatment and taking your medicine according to direction.
  • Diabetes – People with diabetes have a higher risk of developing coronary artery disease. Type 2 diabetes may be managed or controlled by diet, weight loss , exercise and medications.
  • Exercise – The American Heart Association regards physical inactivity as the fourth major risk factor for coronary artery disease. Regular exercise is one of the most powerful ways to improve your heart function.
  • Nutrition – Eating an unhealthy diet high in fat, salt and simple carbohydrates can increase cholesterol levels and weight, increasing your risk of heart disease. Adopting a heart healthy diet will help lower your risk of heart disease