New Screen for Heart Disease

I always try to emphasize to my patients that test results are only one part of making a diagnosis. Still, I do marvel at the technological advances that medical science continues to achieve. We must always be careful how we use these inventions because often the technology far precedes the science of how best to use it, and not use it. With that caution, one piece of recent technology that we are still defining how best to use is the ultrafast electron beam CT scan of the heart, whose purpose is to find calcium in the coronary arteries.

Today, I discussed the results of an ultrafast CT scan with my patient, and my own dentist, Dr. Crown. Even though he runs regularly and is very conscientious about his low cholesterol diet, his cholesterol level has gradually increased, he has a family history of heart attacks on his mother’s side, and to top it all off, he just had his 50th birthday. So I ordered an electron beam CT scan at LIFETEST. I was happy to report to Dr. Crown that his calcium score was 0. What a relief for him. This completely negative result tells him and me that the chance of him having coronary artery disease is very low. Of course, I told him that he should continue his running and low cholesterol diet.

As an aside, I have a medical colleague who is a miraculous testimony to the ultrafast electron beam CT heart scan. He is a healthy 50-year-old physician who had this test done as a screening test and found it to be decidedly abnormal. To make a long story short, he had coronary artery bypass surgery, which undoubtedly saved his life. Not all ultrafast heart scans result in immediate lifesaving testimonials. Most surely will help patients over the long term. Hopefully, they lead to patients improving their lifestyles, stopping smoking, lowering their cholesterol, and therefore avoiding the necessity of coronary bypass surgery. To find out more about this new technology or to find the center nearest you, go to