Mammogram for the Heart: Coronary Calcium Score

NEW YORK. (KFSN) -- When you think about heart attack, you probably assume if you have normal blood pressure and no problem with cholesterol you're in the clear. Think again. In fact, experts say 80 percent of the people who suffer heart attacks have normal cholesterol. New research shows a quick preventive test, like a mammogram for the heart, may give patients the best information yet.

Jeffrey Feinman was looking good and feeling great as he hit his 49th birthday. Despite that, this senior partner in a New York accounting firm made an appointment with his cardiologist.

"In my business, I'm starting to see a lot of people around me who are having health issues; heart attacks, strokes, who are people similar in age to me," Feinman told Ivanhoe.

Jeffrey has normal cholesterol and no high blood pressure. But that's no guarantee.

James Min, MD, Professor of Medicine and Radiology at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York told Ivanhoe, "There are millions and millions of adults out there who are at risk for heart attack, but who don't know it."

Dr. Min is studying the impact of plaque buildup in the heart. He says a quick, non-invasive scan is the most accurate way to catch heart trouble. He says it's like a mammogram for the heart.

"Somebody puts three EKG leads on so that we can monitor the heart rhythm. Somebody asks you to hold your breath a couple of times and five minutes later you are out the door," Dr. Min explained.

It's a simple scan and doctors give patients a coronary calcium score. Zero for no risk, one to 100 is low risk, 100 to 400 is moderate and over 400 is high. Jeffrey's score was zero, meaning no sign of plaque.

Feinman said, "It was very comforting to hear that." Five minutes of prevention that could lead to years of better health.

Dr. Min says the coronary calcium scoring test is best for people who would be considered intermediate risk - for the most part, men over the age of 45 or women over 50. Insurance does not cover the diagnostic test, which costs anywhere from $100 to $500. He says the results of the test are good for about 15 years unless you are a higher risk and need to repeat it in five to seven years.

If you would like more information, please contact:

Ashley Paskalis

Copyright © 2020 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.