Heart Scans: Who Should Get One?

Writer / Dr. Ziad Jaradat, Interventional Cardiologist and Peripheral Vascular Specialist at IU Health West Hospital
Photography Provided

Anyone who is overweight, smokes or has high blood pressure could be at risk for heart disease. Patients can find out their risk with a heart or vascular scan. They are convenient, simple, and can help detect heart disease before it becomes a problem. Heart Scans

Who could benefit from a heart scan?

To be eligible for a heart scan, you must not have had one within the last five years, and must be 40 to 79 years of age with one of several risk factors. If you have a family history of heart-related issues, your risk may be higher. Almost one-third of coronary heart disease deaths are attributed to smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke, according to the American Heart Association. Additionally, at least 65% of people with diabetes die from some form of heart disease or stroke. Obesity is another risk factor. As your body mass index increases, so does the plaque inside your coronary arteries. This reduces the supply of oxygen-rich blood to the heart, and results in a higher risk of angina or heart attack. High blood pressure (HPB) exerts extra force on your arteries, which could lead to blood clots, fat and plaque buildup, and damaged organs. People with HPB are at a higher risk of stroke and heart failure.

Who could benefit from a vascular scan?

An option to check for vascular disease is a vascular scan. To be eligible, you must be 50 years of age or older, with one of several risk factors. People with a family history of heart issues and aortic aneurysms have a higher risk of stroke. Men who have smoked and are between the ages of 65 and 75 should be screened at least once for an aneurysm, according to the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force. Smokers are at an increased risk for all vascular diseases, including peripheral arterial disease, stroke, heart attack, abdominal aortic aneurysm and subsequent death. Together, smoking and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease also increase the risk of stroke. High blood pressure increases your risk for heart and vascular-related conditions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about eight out of every 10 people who have their first stroke have high blood pressure. Another risk factor is high cholesterol. When there is too much cholesterol in the blood, it builds up in the walls of your arteries. Over time, this buildup can slow the blood flow to your heart and cause a heart attack.

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