Dr. Sandeep Shah Talks About Screening for Heart Disease


Announcer: This segment is sponsored by ARA Diagnostic Imaging.

Anchor: Welcome back to We are Austin! The heart is a common symbol for February with Valentine’s Day, but it’s also American Heart Month. Dr. Sandeep Shah with ARA Diagnostic Imaging is here with important information about your heart health and how a simple exam now can help save your life in the future. It’s important information. I’m glad you’re here to share it.

Doctor: Glad to be here.

Anchor: What exactly is it that you specialize in?

Doctor: I’m a radiologist, so my specialty involves diagnosing diseases throughout the body. We use imaging tools such as CT or CAT scan, MRI, ultrasound, and x-ray.

Anchor: What exactly is CT calcium scoring and why is that known as a heart saver?

Doctor: CT calcium scoring is a diagnostic tool, just like the ones I just mentioned. It’s called a heart saver tool because it can potentially catch coronary artery disease, which is a potentially silent killer before someone has symptoms of heart disease, specifically a heart attack. Now, coronary artery disease happens when there is plaque build-up in the arteries that supply blood to the heart. We show those right here.

Anchor: Yeah.

Doctor: Here’s a picture of the heart. The coronary arteries are the squiggly red lines right here. Even though potentially significantly detrimental, this plaque build-up can be completely asymptomatic. Now a heart attack happens when there is a complete blockage of a coronary artery, hence, the heart doesn’t have the blood it needs to function.

Anchor: Right.

Doctor: Alright. This can happen very suddenly, and someone could be walking around and not even know they have these symptoms or can have this problem.

Anchor: So, you help diagnose those.

Doctor: Before we get to that I want to point out one more thing. It’s really important to understand the severity of this. If you understand that the number one killer in the United States in both men and women is coronary artery disease.

Anchor: Yeah.

Doctor: All right. So, with this information, you and your medical provider can find out if your coronary arteries are dangerously clogged. A CT scan is safe, non-invasive, comfortable and can provide this information very fast.

Anchor: Ok. So what do we need to know?

Doctor: All right. What’s going to happen is when you go in, you’re going to get a picture of your heart.

Anchor: Mmhmm.

Doctor: A picture of your heart is going to show you the levels of calcium build up and how severe they are. You’ll simply lay down, like this gentleman is, on the CT scanning bed and within a matter of minutes, you have your exam done.

Anchor: Gotcha. Do you get a report after that?

Doctor: You do! You do. So what we’re going to do here is actually look at some of the slides of actual CTs from coronary artery screening varying anywhere from no disease to severe disease.

Anchor: Mmhmm.

Doctor: This is someone with no disease so you’re not going to see – this is the heart, this is the coronary artery – what you’re not going to see are areas of white. The white is going to indicate calcium, which is the plaque build-up in the coronary arteries.

Anchor: Right! So, this looks good.

Doctor: This looks good!

Anchor: No plaque. Ok.

Doctor: Healthy heart. This is someone with mild disease. This is the white I was talking about. That’s calcium which is plaque build-up in a coronary artery. Again, mild disease—someone should think about some lifestyle modifications to prevent it from getting any worse.

Anchor: {Laughter} There you go! You’re a pro!

Doctor: So, this is someone with severe disease. The red circles help, obviously. All these areas of white, this is calcium build-up in the major coronary arteries. This is someone who is at severe risk of having a heart attack from coronary artery disease and may not even know it.

Anchor: What are your next steps after this?

Doctor: The next step is you get this chart. This is a chart that radiologists use to determine the severity of plaque build-up. As you can see it goes from zero, which indicates little to no risk of a heart attack from coronary artery disease, to over four hundred which indicates a 90% chance of having a heart attack because of this condition.

Anchor: My goodness!

Doctor: We give this information to you and your health care provider so you can make the decision necessary to improve heart health.

Anchor: Who exactly is at risk?

Doctor: The major risk factors are the ones listed here. It’s poor diet, obesity, lack of exercise, smoking, family history, and advanced age. So, the stuff we all kind of know about but if you have one or more of all these risk factors, it’s worth talking to your health care provider about the benefits of obtaining CT calcium scoring at Austin Radiological Association. It’s seventy-five dollars.

Anchor: Yeah.

Doctor: It’s low cost and it can be a true lifesaver.

Anchor: It may have a very long-term impact. So, we’re going to put information on the screen about how people can find you. You’ve got locations all over Austin or you can head to their website for more information, or you can pick up the phone and give them a call and ask questions. Lots of extremely knowledgeable doctors, just like Dr. Shah, who are there to help you and talk to you. Thanks for being here!

Doctor: Thanks very much!

Please note: When talking to your health care provider about getting a CT calcium scoring, be sure and discuss any symptoms you may be having, including chest pain or pain in the arms, back neck, jaw, or stomach; shortness of breath; palpitations; nausea; and fatigue.

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