Coronary Artery Plaque: How Cardiac CT Can Help Detect It
If you’re experiencing symptoms of coronary artery disease, or if you want to know whether your risk factors are putting you at risk of developing the condition. An important diagnostic test is a coronary CT scan. Coronary CT, also known as CTCA, can help cardiologists detect the presence of plaque buildup in the coronary arteries that supply blood to your heart. This buildup can lead to narrowing and blockage of the arteries, which could cause chest pain and other symptoms of heart disease.
Overview Of The Heart
Your heart is a muscle that pumps blood through your body. The blood carries oxygen and nutrients to your cells and removes waste products. Your heart is divid into four chambers: the right atrium and ventricle, and the left atrium and ventricle. The right side of your heart pumps blood to your lungs, where it picks up oxygen. The left side of your heart pumps oxygen-rich blood to the rest of your body.
Between each chamber is a valve that helps keep the blood flowing in the right direction. The valves are made of flaps of tissue call leaflets. The leaflets open and close with each heartbeat. If they don’t open or close properly, it’s call valve disease.
What Is A CT Scan?
A computed tomography (CT) scan is an imaging test that uses special x-ray equipment to create detail pictures, or scans, of areas inside the body. A CT scan can be use to examine the brain, spine, chest, abdomen, pelvis, and blood vessels. A cardiac CT scan is a type of CT scan that is use to assess the coronary arteries for the presence of plaque buildup. Coronary artery disease plaque is made up of fatty deposits that build up on the inner walls of the artery over time. The degree of atherosclerosis can vary from minimal narrowing to complete blockage. If left untreate, block arteries in heart tissue lead to myocardial infarction (heart attack).
Magnetic Resonance Imaging vs. X-Ray
There are two main types of imaging tests that cardiologists use to look for coronary artery disease plaque. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and X-ray. MRI is the most sensitive test for detecting plaque, but it is also the most expensive and not widely available. X-ray is less sensitive than MRI, but it is less expensive and more widely available. Therefore, many cardiologists still rely on X-rays as their primary diagnostic tool when looking for coronary artery plaque. The downside of an X-ray is that it cannot detect calcium buildup in the arteries. Calcium can eventually harden into a plaque. Therefore, if you have a high chance of having atherosclerosis or calcify plaques in your arteries, your doctor may want to perform an MRI scan instead.
An Example Of A Normal Heart Using Cardiac CTA
A normal heart using cardiac CTA will have clear coronary arteries with no visible plaque buildup. This is because the arteries are not constrict or block, and blood is able to flow freely through them. The lack of plaque means that there is no risk of a heart attack or other cardiovascular event. However, if plaque is present, it can narrow the arteries and restrict blood flow. This can lead to chest pain, shortness of breath, and an increase risk of heart attack or stroke. Cardiac CT can help detect coronary artery plaque so that cardiologists can take steps to treat it. And prevent serious cardiovascular events.