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Coronary CT Test Predicts Heart Attack Risk

Monday, February 18, 2019

Prairie du Chien, WI – New technology is available at Crossing Rivers Health in Prairie du Chien that helps determine blocked arteries which could lead to a future heart event, potentially preventing a heart attack. Coronary Computed Tomography Angiography is a non-invasive method to detect blockages in the coronary arteries using advanced CT technology, along with IV dyes to obtain 3D pictures of the heart and blood vessels. These high resolution images enable providers to determine potential blockages in the artery walls.

“This technology is available in the Emergency Department, for patients who present with heart-related symptoms,” explains Heidi Kirschbaum, Emergency Department Clinical Services Director at Crossing Rivers Health. “It allows our providers to take a direct look at the arteries and is a major tool in the diagnosis of coronary artery disease.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is responsible for one in every four deaths, resulting in approximately 610,000 deaths in the United States each year. A heart attack occurs when an artery in the heart becomes blocked, stopping blood flow to a section of heart muscle. This happens most often because of artery disease, a slow and steady accumulation of fats and other substances on the inside of artery walls.

Common heart attack symptoms include uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and comes back; pain that spreads to the neck, jaw, stomach or arms; and chest discomfort with lightheadedness, sweating, nausea or shortness of breath. Some people experience several of these, others few. Symptoms may be severe or mild. Some people even have "silent" heart attacks with no warning signals at all.

“Even if a person has had a negative stress test they could still be at risk of heart attack within 6 to 12 months of that stress test,” added Tim Clark, Director of Medical Imaging at Crossing Rivers Health. “This technology can detect issues in the coronary artery walls that may lead to future health concerns and potentially prevent a heart attack from taking place. The test takes a short amount of time with a low dose of radiation and can be lifesaving.”

In addition to being available in the Crossing Rivers Health Emergency Department, individuals can talk with their primary care provider to determine if a Coronary Computed Tomography Angiography would be a precautionary test. Primary care appointments can be made at Crossing Rivers Health Clinic locations in Prairie du Chien and Fennimore by calling 608.357.2500. ###