Scanning the heart's arteries for calcium deposits accurately predicts the overall death risk for American adults, a new study suggests.I can hear it now:
"So far, this is the best predictor we have of who will have a problem and who will not," said study co-researcher Dr. Matthew Budoff, associate professor of medicine at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.
He and his colleagues reported the finding in the July 1 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
A calcium scan looks for calcification, a hardening of the arteries caused by high blood fats and calcium deposits that can eventually block blood vessels, causing heart attacks, strokes and other major problems.
"Hey Marge, hey lookie here in the Washington Post! I wanna get one of dem der fancy schmancy CT scanner gizmos to find out if I'm gonna DIE sooner than you are! Let's take $600 bucks for that fancy schmancy thing-a-ma-bob out of our retirement fund. It'd be WORTH IT!"-Wes
Sometime later, in the doctor's office...
Doctor: "Well, Mr. Jones, I see my this fancy schmancy CT scan that you'd got some calcium in your coronaries. Hmmmm. And you calcium score is 210, just like Tim Russert! So, guess what?"
Mr. Jones: "What?"
Doctor: "Well Mr. Jones, you're at increased risk of DYING!"
Mr. Jones: "Uh, what do you mean, Doctor?"
Doctor: "You heard me: you're at increased risk of DYING with all that calcium in those coronaries - you know - BAM! Just like Tim Russert."
Mr. Jones: "Any idea when, Doctor?"
(Silence)Mr Jones: "Doctor, did you hear me? When will I die? I mean, won't we all die sometime?"
Doctor: "Heck, Mr. Jones, I don't know! But I can assure you that based on this fine article here in the prestigious Journal of the American College of Cardiology (you know, the same one that's also promoting their new Cardiovascular Imaging journal) that you're gonna die of SOMETHING sooner than some of the other people who don't have that evil calcium in their arteries."
Mr. Jones: "Gosh. So what should I DO about it, Doctor?"
Doctor: "Well, you know, since we're proposing that it's a RISK FACTOR for DYING, you should do the usual stuff: eat right, take tons of statin drugs, don't smoke, take your aspirin, lose weight, eat a low trans fat, high antioxidant, super-radical-consuming diet, do yoga, take mega vitamins, face East, say a few 'Hail Mary's..."
Mr. Jones: "Uh, but I was already doing that stuff..."
Doctor: "Have you had your CRP level and genes tested yet?"
Mr. Jones: "How would that help?"
Doctor: "Well, Mr. Jones, it might mean your risk of DEATH is EVEN GREATER!"
Mr. Jones: "But what can I do about it if it's positive also?"
Doctor: "Well, you know, the usual stuff... like I said... eat right, take tons of..."
Mr. Jones: "That's okay, Doctor. I've had enough. Thanks for all of your help. Hope that $300 bucks comes in handy. Don't mind me: I'll keep doing what I've been doing and get started preparing my Bucket List. Oh, but one more thing..."
Doctor: "What's that Mr. Jones?"
Mr. Jones: "You wouldn't happen to work with General Electric like those two guys who wrote that article you quoted, would you?"