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New Test Helps Detect a “Silent Killer”

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

CT angiography offers immense value as a pre-emptive, potentially life-saving tool—just ask Bryn Mawr Hospital cardiologist, Henry Mayer, MD

(Newtown Square, Pa.)—The Bryn Mawr Hospital Health Center (BMHHC) in Newtown Square now offers the most effective, non-invasive method for the early detection of coronary artery disease (CAD), the leading cause of death in the United States. Cardiac computed tomography (CT) angiography uses advanced imaging technology to examine the arteries that supply blood to the heart and detect the presence of blockages that may not yet be severe enough to show up on other tests or cause symptoms.
 
“CT angiography is a powerful tool in our fight against coronary artery disease, the most common form of heart disease,” said Bryn Mawr Hospital cardiologist, Henry Mayer, MD, who considers himself living proof of the test’s immense value after volunteering to have the scan at the BMHHC.
 
 “In a matter of minutes, I learned that a heart attack was in my immediate future,” explained Dr. Mayer. “It was a complete shock.” Dr. Mayer had always been in good health with no known risk factors, signs, or symptoms of CAD, yet the test revealed emergent blockages that required quadruple bypass surgery to clear.
 
According to Dr. Mayer, CT angiography uses a 64-slice scanner to produce detailed, three-dimensional pictures of the heart within seconds. This non-invasive, virtually pain-free procedure offers exceptional image quality, which can mean better diagnosis, faster recovery time, and increased patient comfort and convenience.
 
For many individuals, CT angiography may be helpful for an initial look at the coronary vessels or a great compliment to a physical exam and a screening for heart disease, especially if the person has a family history of heart disease, preexisting conditions, or elevated cholesterol. It is also an excellent method to follow up patients after coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG), balloon angioplasty, or stent replacements.
 
“It’s quick, extremely accurate, and a great alternative to conventional procedures that require catheterization, fasting before, and hours of recuperation afterward,” said Dr. Mayer. “Unless a blockage is detected, you go home, and a report is sent to your referring physician. It’s that simple.”

Not everyone is a candidate for this procedure such as individuals with poor kidney function, irregular heart rates, and pacemakers. CCTA does require a referral from a physician and, at this time, is generally not reimbursed by medical insurance.
 
“Heart disease is often referred to as the ‘silent killer’ because many people don’t know they have it until a serious happens,” said Dr. Mayer. “Bryn Mawr Hospital Health Center made this technology available and accessible because it recognizes its importance and the potentially life-altering effects for our community."

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