Calcium Scan Detects Heart Disease Early

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LOS ANGELES (KTLA) -- More than 27 million people in the US are living with heart disease, and one doctor has come up with a high-tech test that detects potential issues earlier than ever before.

The test is called a Coronary Calcium Scan. It takes a virtual picture of the heart to detect if there's plaque build up and whether or not the patient needs to do something about it.

Dr. Daniel Berman works at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and sees heart patients daily. One of the most common problems he sees are artery blockages in patients.

"The amount of calcium in your coronary arteries reflects a build-up over a lifetime. It's the effect of all those risk factors that we know about, put together," said Dr. Berman.

But early detection of these conditions can make a dramatic difference.

"Eighty percent of heart attacks can be prevented if we can identify the people who need to be treated," said Dr. Berman. "The problem is that only about half of the patients who have disease know it before they ever have a heart attack"

To help identify potential problems at an early state, Dr. Berman and his colleagues have developed a new medical technique.

"The calcium scan is a completely non-invasive test that can tell us how much plaque build-up has occurred over a lifetime," said Dr. Berman.

The entire procedure takes about ten minutes and isn't much different than an MRI scan. Alan Davidov had the test, which revealed a healthy heart.

"I was concerned about the risks and my age and I wanted to make sure that everything was cool on the inside," said Davidov.

"The test allows us to personalize treatment of individual patients - defining the people who are very high risk and searating those from the people who are at low risk," said Dr. Berman.

From there it could take simple lifestyle changes to stay healthy, or more, depending on your personal results.

"We need to know how much disease a patient has in order to decide how aggressively we have to attack these problems," said Dr. Berman.

"I'm a little more secure in myself knowing that I'm taking care of a potential problem later on," said Davidov.

Now the test isn't covered by most insurance companies, but in many cases Medicare will cover it. The test runs anywhere from three to five-hundred dollars.If you want more information on the Coronary Calcium Scan, click here.

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