One in 5 asymptomatic individuals diagnosed with calcified plaque in heart

One in 5 asymptomatic individuals diagnosed with calcified plaque in heart
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One in 5 asymptomatic individuals diagnosed with calcified plaque in heart

Highlights

About 1 in 5 (20 per cent) of the 4,000 asymptomatic individuals who underwent screening for heart calcium score at NURA in the previous 12 months had calcified plaque buildup in their hearts. With an Agatston score of over 400, 150 of these persons (4 per cent) had a 90 per cent risk of having a heart attack but were fully ignorant of it.

Bengaluru: About 1 in 5 (20 per cent) of the 4,000 asymptomatic individuals who underwent screening for heart calcium score at NURA in the previous 12 months had calcified plaque buildup in their hearts. With an Agatston score of over 400, 150 of these persons (4 per cent) had a 90 per cent risk of having a heart attack but were fully ignorant of it. They were saved just in time since a preventive health checkup allowed for the early diagnosis of their ailment.

A coronary calcium scan can detect and measure calcium-containing plaque in the arteries said Dr. Tausif Ahmed Thangalvadi, Medical Director at NURA.

"This plaque can grow and lead to narrowing of coronary arteries and increased risk of heart attack. Plaque in arteries is more common in men than women, and its incidence increases with age. Heart Calcium score uses low-dose CT scan to take cross-sections of the blood vessels of the heart to look for build-up of calcified plaques made of fats, cholesterol, calcium and other substances in the blood. This calcium is different from the calcium in the bones and is not related to calcium in our diet. The Heart Calcium Score helps us identify a person at risk of a heart attack even before signs and symptoms develop," he added.

Talking about how Heart Calcium Store is different from other heart tests, he added " An ECG or Echo can pick up a heart attack only after it occurs. A normal ECG or Echo does not rule out the risk or presence of atherosclerotic plaques. A treadmill test measures the ability of the heart to increase its blood flow under physical stress. It can pick up the risk of a heart attack only if the coronary artery narrowing reaches a critical stage."

However, today heart Calcium Score is recommended for screening cardiac risk in asymptomatic people, and an angiogram in those who are symptomatic. "A Heart Calcium Score can be done once a year to pick up any coronary artery disease at an early stage. People with a zero score can also be reassured about their heart and avoid unnecessary medications," remarked Dr. Tausif.

As per the WHO Global Health estimates 2016, nearly 11 per cent of the population in India is suffering from coronary artery disease (heart disease). This means that 1 out of 10 Indians has heart disease, which is much higher than the world average. "Heart disease is the highest killer contributing to nearly 50 per cent of all deaths in India. And this becomes of much more concern when we realise that Indians have heart disease at a younger age and with higher mortality," he concluded.

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