According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, “the overall cardiovascular-disease death rate is an under-recognized contributor to the recent decline in U.S. life expectancy. While that has been driven mostly by deaths from drug overdoses and suicides, improvements in cardiovascular health are no longer providing a counterbalance.”

Even though there has been a significant decline in death rates from heart disease and stroke, progress has slowed to a crawl. According to the article, the death rate for cardiovascular disease, which includes heart disease and stroke, has fallen only four percent since 2011.

Compared to a decline of more than 70 percent in the prior 60 years, slow decline has become a crawl. There are a couple of main reasons for increased mortality via cardiovascular disease:

  • The obesity epidemic
  • The related rise of Type 2 Diabetes

Conversely from years ago when it was more likely that heart disease would strike men who were smokers and had cholesterol issues, more patients are:

  • younger
  • more obese
  • less likely to be smokers
  • more likely to be female

Medicine is always searching for new tools and ways to combat this trend, particularly if the prototypical patient has changed. One possible tool is the coronary calcium score scan.

Your doctor may want you to have a coronary calcium scan if you have several risk factors for heart disease. This test might be most helpful for people who have no symptoms but who are at medium risk for heart disease.

Medium risk means that you have a 10% to 20% chance of having a heart attack in the next 10 years, based on your risk factors. That translates to 10-20 out of 100 people with this level of risk will have a heart attack within 10 years.*

If your doctor thinks that the results of this scan could change your treatment and lower your risk for heart disease, you may receive a recommendation to undergo this non-invasive CT exam.

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