≡ Menu

Latest News

Heart Attack Prevention: How Testing Could Save Your Life

Author: Thomas Perry, M.D., FACC

As a cardiologist and member of the Society for Heart Attack Prevention and Eradication (SHAPE), keeping my patients informed about the dangers of heart attack is one of my top priorities. From talking to friends, patients, and other physicians, I’ve found that there’s a lot of misinformation going around about heart attack prevention.

Think you know heart attacks? Here are a few facts that might surprise you.

  1. You can still have a heart attack with normal cholesterol levels. You might have perfect cholesterol. But did you know significant calcium buildup in the arteries can be just as dangerous?
  2. Appearances aren’t everything. Plenty of high-risk, obese smokers have lived long lives without a heart attack. Just because you have a healthy lifestyle, you can’t write off the need for heart attack prevention.
  3. Even world-class athletes have heart attacks. You can exercise with atherosclerosis and not even know it. But… warning: the extra strain on your cardiovascular system could cause a clot to break free, causing a heart attack.

Screening for Asymptomatic Atherosclerosis: What You Can Do

SHAPE’s fundamental message – a message I very much believe in – is that patients and their physicians cannot rely on the traditional “risk factors” that have been used in the past to predict and prevent heart attacks. (These risk factors include family history, obesity, hypertension, and cholesterol levels.) Let me emphasize that these risk factors are important. However, “passing” your physician’s standard medical evaluation is not grounds for ruling out the possibility of a heart attack.

So, what can you do? SHAPE encourages patients to undergo Carotid Intima-Media Thickness (IMT) Testing and/or Coronary Calcium Scoring. A little bit about these tests…

  • Carotid IMT testing measures two layers of the carotid artery (the artery in your neck where you can feel your pulse). This non-invasive test is performed via ultrasound with a small, handheld transducer. It helps determine if asymptomatic atherosclerosis is in your arteries.
  • Coronary Calcium Scoring looks for calcium buildup within the arterial walls. A cardiologist uses either an electron beam CT scan or a multidetector CT scan to look for calcium buildup.

If you have any risk for heart attack, then talk to your physician about screening for asymptomatic atherosclerosis. It just might save your life.

To learn more about heart attack prevention, call Advanced Heart & Vascular Institute at 602-507-6002.
Please consult with your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines.


Contact Us

Have questions? Need to schedule your
appointment? Contact us, today!

Contact Us