3 Ways to Get Screened for Heart Disease
January 11, 2023
They say that seeing is believing. That expression couldn’t mean more than when doctors are able to visualize the heart, gauging its health or taking crucial next steps to save a life.
By offering a trio of screening and advanced cardiac imaging tests, Hackensack Meridian Health is empowered to do just that. The tools, AngioScreen®, CT Calcium Scoring scans and HeartFlow analysis, quickly and precisely detect narrowed or blocked arteries that can lead to a heart attack or stroke without invasive procedures. Since cardiovascular disease is the top killer of both men and women in the United States—and sometimes symptomless despite its presence—this is powerful knowledge.
“All of these technologies are part of a truly integrated program of cardiovascular care,” says David Landers, M.D., interim director of the Division of Cardiology at Hackensack University Medical Center. “We not only have this technology across the network, but our team’s skill and expertise to use it in expert fashion.”
Within a 15-minute span, AngioScreen screens for heart and blood vessel disease by blending several distinct screenings and measurements. These include:
- Ultrasound of the carotid artery in the neck to scan for blockages and plaque buildup
- Peak systolic velocity (PSV) to gauge blood flow
- Ankle brachial index (ABI) to look for blockages in leg arteries
- Ultrasound to detect abdominal aortic aneurysm before it ruptures
- Modified EKG to show heart rhythm
- Blood pressure
- Body mass measurements
Anyone can receive an AngioScreen, even those not at high risk or experiencing symptoms. “The goal is to identify people with cardiovascular disease who otherwise would not be seeking care with a cardiologist,” explains Daniel Kiss, M.D., interventional cardiologist at Jersey Shore University Medical Center and AngioScreen medical director. “If we can do that, we can get them started on treatment early, whether that be medications or lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise.”
By learning about heart and blood vessel problems before a heart attack or stroke can occur, AngioScreen promotes a healthier, longer life. “The saddest thing is when you realize that someone who’s otherwise relatively young, with no strong history of cardiovascular disease, had a major adverse event that could have been identified beforehand,” Dr. Kiss says.
To find a location near you for AngioScreen, or to register, visit HMHforU.org/FindAngioscreen.
CT Calcium Scoring
Even without cardiovascular disease symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath, some people are deemed at higher risk because of a combination of factors, including gender, age, high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes. A CT Calcium Scoring scan is a quick 10-minute scan performed at an imaging center that can help identify signs of heart disease.
Here’s how it works:
- CT Calcium Scoring searches for calcium-containing, hardened plaque in the arteries surrounding the heart.
- Patients with higher calcium scores have a greater risk for a heart attack, heart disease or stroke.
- This score helps doctors decide if medications and lifestyle changes can minimize risk before a heart event might occur, or indicate that further diagnostic testing could be beneficial to identify blockages.
“With CT Calcium Scoring, now we have an additional risk scoring, which is considered more accurate than the calculations historically available,” Dr. Landers says. “This will help determine
the value of possible preventive therapies or interventions.”
Visit HMHforU.org/CTScore to schedule a CT Calcium Scoring scan.
Unlike other advanced cardiac imaging that screens for cardiovascular problems in people with no symptoms, HeartFlow comes to the forefront for those experiencing chest pain, shortness of breath or other signs. Crucially, HeartFlow builds on results from cardiac CT scans that yield concerning results, generating personalized, color-coded 3-D images of a patient’s coronary arteries without requiring additional hospital visits or separate tests.
Using this information, doctors can quantify a patient’s individual risk of a heart attack over the next five years when a blockage has been identified, says Saleem Husain, M.D., an interventional cardiologist at JFK University Medical Center. HeartFlow is the first and only noninvasive test that enables doctors to understand how narrowed or blocked vessels have already impacted blood flow to the heart—information otherwise available only with riskier, invasive procedures that carry complication risks such as bleeding, infection and stroke.
Here’s how it works:
- When a doctor orders a cardiac CT scan, they may indicate an additional HeartFlow analysis if the results of the CT scan warrant it.
- The patient’s existing CT scan is then run through HeartFlow analysis, which provides additional information to determine the best course of treatment.
“HeartFlow is visual, so it gives a more quantitative analysis of cardiac CT images and the stenosis or blockage itself,” Dr. Husain says. “The goal is to see if the stenosis is significant enough to warrant some kind of intervention. Data shows that patients do much better over the next five years if we intervene.”
HeartFlow can also ease patient anxiety by demonstrating that some blood vessel blockages are not as serious as first suspected. “If your worry has been great, having a test that shows you a lesion isn’t significant puts you at ease that you’ve done that further testing,” Dr. Husain says.
Visit HMHforU.org/HeartFlow to learn more about HeartFlow.
Next Steps & Resources:
- Meet our sources: Daniel Kiss, M.D., David Landers, M.D., and Saleem Husain, M.D.
- To make an appointment with a cardiologist near you, call 800-822-8905 or visit our website.
- Schedule a heart screening today.
The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.