September 30, 2010

CT Scans and Cardiovascular Health

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Tired of routine check-ups where doctors find nothing wrong, then all of a sudden you suffer from a heart attack or heart disease? Now, researchers are able to use diagnostic CT to identify those at high risk for cardiovascular disease.

"The results of this study show that radiologists can predict cardiovascular disease fairly well using identical findings of calcifications of the aortic wall on CT, along with minimal patient information, such as age, gender, and the reason for the CT," Martjin J. A. Gondrie, M.D., from the Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care at the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands, was quoted as saying.

CT chest scans have been used more frequently over the last ten years. This is due in large part to the image quality improvements that have developed. As a result, doctors are able to find things that they normally would not have seen.

"This is the first study to investigate whether incidental findings can predict future disease in a routine care setting," Dr. Gondrie said. "Incidental findings are obtained without additional radiation exposure or cost to the patient and may hold valuable clues as to the patient's overall health and their risk for future disease."

Dr. Gondrie and his colleagues developed and used prediction models. They studied a total of 6,975 patients who underwent CT chest scans. They looked for aortic abnormalities, such as plaques, elongation, and calcifications.

"PROVIDI is the first study of its scale and scope that seeks to investigate the potential of incidental findings to predict future disease and thus identify patients at risk," Dr. Gondrie concluded. "It generates the much-needed insights that allow more effective utilization of the increasing amount of diagnostic information, and it could potentially change the way radiologists contribute to the efficiency of daily patient care."

SOURCE: Radiology, November 2010