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Heart disease can be genetic, but it can also happen as a result of lifestyle. In order to prevent heart disease, adding exercise and maintaining a diet low in fat can help to keep your heart healthy. You can also maintain your heart’s health by having a heart scan to detect the advent of heart disease years before symptoms may occur.

Heart scans are generally recommended for men between the ages of 40 and 70, and for women between the ages of 50 and 70. They are especially helpful if the patient has a family history of heart disease, elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes.

A heart scan detects and “scores” the amount of calcium present in your arteries. Calcium may indicate a blockage which can lead to a heart attack. Highly accurate, noninvasive and painless, a heart scan uses an ultrafast Computed Tomography (CT) scanner. Radiation exposure is the equivalent of an abdominal X-ray, and any calcium deposits present in the arteries are scored quickly, clearly and accurately.

Coronary scores and what they mean:

  • 0 means you have a low risk of coronary disease
  • 1+ indicates mild calcium deposits
  • 2+ indicates a mildly increased risk of heart attack
  • 3+ is higher than the average score and usually means that you will be referred for additional diagnostic tests

Additional diagnostic tests can include:

  • thallium or radionucleide scan that images the heart
  • treadmill stress test
  • stress echocardiogram