CENTRE FOR CARDIAC DIAGNOSTICS

Early diagnosis and risk assessment of coronary artery constriction and calcification using state-of-the-art CT diagnostics – an alternative to a cardiac catheter

Innovative and non-invasive: cardiac computed tomography

Coronary artery calcification is the cause of the number 1 widespread disease: heart attack. In Germany alone, 280,000 people suffer heart attacks each year, more than one third of those affected die from the ensuing complications.

Nowadays the individual risks can easily be assessed and treated in time by cardiac computed tomography. For an examination in our modern 64-slice cardiac CT scanners makes it possible to rule out or detect dangerous coronary artery calcification (calcium scoring) or constriction (coronary angiography) with high diagnostic accuracy in just minutes. A cardiac catheter examination via a puncture in the groin with the associated risks (such as cardiac arrhythmia, heart attack, vessel injuries as well as bleeding) is thus no longer necessary in many cases.

Heart attacks usually come on without warning. Timely screening examinations are particularly important for patients with an increased risk.

In case of untypical symptoms or patients with a low or average risk of the presence of coronary heart disease, relevant coronary artery constriction can be reliably proven or ruled out by coronary computed tomography angiography – without puncturing the groin or inserting a catheter.

The individual risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) (Agatston score) can be reliably determined by coronary calcification measurement in symptom-free persons with corresponding risk factors.

Risk factors include:

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure (arterial hypertonia)
  • High blood sugar (diabetes mellitus)
  • High cholesterol
  • Hereditary predisposition

If pronounced coronary artery constriction is presumable, the performance of coronary angiography (cardiac catheter examination) is recommended, since therapy (e.g. stent implantation) can already be implemented during the examination.

Coronary computed tomography angiography (CCTA) directly visualises vasoconstriction, i.e. so-called stenosis, calcification and arteriosclerotic soft tissue plaques. For this procedure, a well tolerated, iodinated contrast agent is administered intravenously in your arm, which produces a precise 3-dimensional image of the heart and the coronary arteries. The entire examination is performed while you are lying down and takes approx. 10 minutes. It only takes 8 to 12 seconds to record the image data.

If necessary, anti-hypertensive drugs can be used before the examination to stabilise heart frequency and thus improve the quality of the image data. The examination is performed using low-dose technology adapted to body weight.

For more individual risk assessment and planning of coronary computed tomography angiography, the examination can be combined with a calcium scoring examination. This method indicates the possible presence of dangerous coronary artery calcification and records this calcification quantitatively.

The determined arteriosclerotic load correlates to the risk of heart attack and provides the basis for individual preventive therapy (e.g. lipid reducers, minimisation of risk factors).

The radiation dose administered during this examination is also very low, and contrast injection is not necessary.

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