WEDNESDAY, Sept. 7, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Using CT scans to detect calcium deposits in heart arteries can help doctors predict whether young, healthy men are at high risk of developing coronary heart disease, researchers report.
"Over and above standard risk factors, the presence of coronary calcium portended a roughly 11-fold risk of developing heart disease in the following three years," Dr. Allen J. Taylor, of Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., said in a prepared statement.
"And these were individuals that didn't have a lot of risk factors and were relatively young: men in their mid-40s, at a time when people are at the prime of their work and family lives," said Taylor, who is also affiliated with the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md.
Reporting in the Sept. 7 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Taylor's team assessed the coronary CT scans of nearly 3,000 Army personnel between 40 and 50 years old, then tracked their health over the following three years.
Men with calcium deposits were 11.8 times as likely to suffer a coronary event as men with no deposits detected, the researchers found.
But Taylor said he could not at this time recommend routine CT screening for individuals without heart disease symptoms. "It is not [at this time] shown that such a strategy could actually prevent adverse oputcomes," he said. He believes more study is needed before any such recommendation could be put into place.
The National Institutes of Health has more about coronary heart disease.