CT Scan for Heart Risk Splits Doctors

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Doctors Debate Benefits, Risks of Additional Heart Test

"The test is potentially worth the cost and small radiation risk only if it is going to change a clinical decision regarding the use of aspirin, blood pressure medications or cholesterol treatment," said Raymond Gibbons, professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic. So for an intermediate risk patient who has additional risk factors, such as a strong family history of heart disease, he argues that this added test would be pointless, as these patients would be treated aggressively anyway.

Still, some doctors agreed with the idea that CAC could be used more widely to evaluate patients.

"With these new data, we have a much better understanding of the best utility for this tool and can understand much better how to apply this technology," Clyde W. Yancy, chief of cardiology at Northwestern University, wrote in an email.

"That coronary artery calcium scoring prevails against these and other candidate risk markers is the news of the day."

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