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Coronary CT Angiography

About five million people visit Emergency Rooms with chest pain every year. Only a fraction of them are actually suffering serious cardiac events. For most people, there are no warning signs.

The most effective treatment for heart disease is prevention. The earlier we detect the potential for heart disease, the sooner you can begin to make changes to reduce your risk. For more than 150,000 Americans a year, the very first sign of coronary artery disease is sudden death.

Now there’s a fast, reliable, non-invasive way to rule out the cause of chest pain. In just five heartbeats, a complete coronary angiogram can be acquired and physicians can quickly rule out the three life-threatening (aortic dissection, pulmonary embolism or coronary artery disease) causes of ER chest pain in one non-invasive scan.

What Is a Coronary CT Angiography?

A Coronary CTA is a heart-imaging test for non-invasively determining whether either fatty deposits or calcium deposits have built up in the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart muscle. We can discover signs of heart disease that would be invisible in EKGs, stress testing, calcium scoring and even cardiac catheterization. Unlike calcium scoring, coronary CTA can identify what is known as "vulnerable plaque," the type of arterial plaque most likely to develop into a life-threatening blockage. If left untreated, these areas of build-up called plaques can cause heart muscle disease which, in turn, can lead to fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain and/or heart attack.

How Does It Work?

A Coronary CTA comes from a special type of X-ray examination. Patients undergoing a Coronary CTA scan receive an iodine-containing contrast dye as an IV solution to ensure the best images possible. The same IV in the arm may be used to give a medication to slow or stabilize the patient’s heart rate for better imaging results. During the examination, x-rays pass through the body and are picked up by special detectors in the scanner. At Jupiter Medical Center we utilize the GE Light Speed VCT 64-slice CT scanner.

This multi-detector system delivers a comprehensive view of the heart and coronary arteries within five seconds (or five beats of the heart); essentially quadrupling the number of available thin slices over previous systems. Because of the speed of the system, it dramatically reduces artifacts due to patient motion and opens new diagnostic possibilities for the clinician.

The information collected during the Coronary CTA examination is used to identify the coronary arteries and, if present, plaques in their walls by creating 3D images on a computer screen. Though the exam typically takes approximately ten minutes, the actual scan time is only eight to ten seconds.

Who Is At Risk For Developing Heart Disease?

One or more of following risk factors can increase your risk for developing heart disease:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Family history of heart disease
  • Overweight
  • High stress
  • Sedentary lifestyle (little or no exercise)

Heart disease affects both men and women, and while men are more susceptible at an earlier age, a woman's risk of having a heart attack rises sharply after menopause.

Because this is a screening exam it is not covered by insurance. At Jupiter Medical Center, we offer Coronary CT Angiography for $399 - including the radiologist’s interpretation.

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