Earlier, heart-attack risk assessment was more about mathematical formulae than medical evidence. This was largely based on the 1959 Framingham risk score study. It was about percentile calculations using individual risk factors such as cholesterol, hypertension, blood glucose, age, genetics and even ethnicity. But there was a rider and the assessment could swing both ways. So, one could have all these risk factors and still not get an attack, and vice versa.
In the late 1970s, a former professor of physics at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), Douglas P Boyd started toying with the idea of capturing the image of the human heart.
Fluoroscopy was already in use to capture the human heart. But, due to motion blur caused by heartbeats, the image was not clear enough to show finer details like calcium crystals. Boyd perfected the electron beam computed tomography (EBCT) scanner after extensive research. This could capture the image of the beating heart with precision.
Experts became even more fascinated with the white crystal specks…
Experts became even more fascinated with the white crystal specks on those images where calcium were deposited on plaques. Initially there was no standardised score to interpret the findings. But in 1990, cardiologist Dr Arthur Agatston developed the CAC score based on the density of these deposits on the CT scan image.
Men starting at age 40-45 and women at menopause, if either group has a lot of advanced risk factors like bad family history, Asian-Indian descent, diabetes, familial hyperlipidemia are prone to these types of situations. also read:-Know what’s the networth of Will Smith and his career history
Calcified arteries mean there are high chances of cardiac blockages
Since these spots could identify locations with plaque formation in coronary arteries, calcium deposits in our arteries are seen as a marker for heart blockages associated with atherosclerosis . Calcified arteries mean there are high chances of cardiac blockages.
Especially in those already identified with risk factors like hypertension, diabetes, obesity and genetic history of cardiac complications in their family. Not all persons with calcification will have significant blockage. This can be clarified initially by TMT / Stress Thallium Studies. If these tests are positive then Cathlab Coronary angiogram is to be done. But for assessing calcium in the coronary arteries, Cardiac CT is very useful, he added.
The invention of the stent revolutionised cardiac-treatment protocols
The invention of the stent in 1988 revolutionised cardiac-treatment protocols and saved millions of lives across the world. Unfortunately, there was an unprecedented increase in the number of people getting ‘stented’ across the countries.
In the late 1980s, the stent remained unopposed in cardiac therapy until the popularisation of statins . In 2007 a major $33.5 million clinical trial – code-named COURAGE was conducted in the US. The study proved that there was not much of a difference in the health of people subjected to the overly expensive stents and the comparatively cheaper medical therapy using drugs like statins and lifestyle interventions. Researchers have also pointed out that many cholesterol-lowering drugs reportedly had side-effects. This includes higher insulin resistance and blood glucose spikes.