March 25, 2011
I have published multiple articles on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of heart disease. MedPage Today’s daily news featured an article touting the improved prognostic ability of measuring “High Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein” (hsCRP) and obtaining a “Coronary Artery Calcium Score” (CAC).
CT scanning combines special x-ray equipment with sophisticated computers to produce multiple images or pictures of the inside of the body. Using this noninvasive technique, radiologists are able to calculate how much calcium resides within the coronary arteries. Based on the most up-to-date research, we can predict an individual’s risk of significant coronary artery disease and heart attack.
hsCRP is a measure of inflammation within the coronary arterial system and is obtained from a non-fasting blood sample. Based on the results of a five year landmark trial in which my office participated (Jupiter), hsCRP has been determined to be an independent risk factor for heart disease.
According to the article published today on www.medpagetoday.com,
“CAC and hsCRP independently predicted the risk of coronary events and all-cause mortality during a five-year follow-up period (HR 1.11 to HR 1.25, P=0.019 to P<0.0001). The combination of the two measures had better discriminatory power than either measure alone.”
“Taken together, elevated levels of CAC and hsCRP not only provide evidence of advanced coronary atherosclerosis and systemic inflammation, but, in their presence, comorbidities seem to be associated with a greater risk of death,” “Stefan Möhlenkamp, MD, of the University of Essen in Germany, and co-authors wrote in the discussion of their findings.”
These two simple, non-invasive tests are valuable. hsCRP costs approximately $100. The cost of a CAC varies amongst institutions and should range between $300 – $450; however, many hospitals run specials on this test. If you have hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes or known heart disease, your insurance company may cover part of the cost. What is your peace of mind worth? Talk to your doctor about these and other testS that can be done to keep you healthy. Remember, the life you save may be your own.