SHAPE Guidelines Report Recommends CT Heart Scans for Screening

Task Force Screening Guidelines Can Prevent Heart Attacks and Strokes

For Immediate Release

Princeton, NJ, June 21, 2006 / Asymptomatic adults should be screened with Cardiac CT Scans tests for heart disease, according to a report to be published by the Screening for Heart Attack Prevention and Education (SHAPE) Task Force published in a supplement of the July 17 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology

Dr John Rumberger, Director of Cardiac Imaging at Princeton Longevity Center and one of the co-authors of the report says “the report resents a new practice guideline for cardiovascular screening in the asymptomatic population.”  Heart attacks and strokes account for more death and disability than all cancers combined.  In more than 30% of these victims, the first indication of their disease is sudden death.  These attacks often occur in patients who are not receiving the benefits of proven preventive therapies because their true risk was unrecognized or missed by conventional treatment guidelines.

Until now, doctors have relied on risk factors such as cholesterol, blood pressure, smoking and family history to try to predict which patients are at elevated risk.  While this can identify the small percentage of the population that is at highest risk, most heart attacks and strokes occur in those classified by this method as low or intermediate risk.  Consequently, many at-risk individuals are never offered preventive treatment. Others are incorrectly classified as high risk and are unnecessarily treated with drug therapy for the rest of their lives.

The SHAPE Guidelines moves the emphasis away from cholesterol and other risk factors and recommends non-invasive imaging of the arteries to measure the actual presence or absence of atherosclerosis as the primary means for determining the need for treatment.

According to Dr. Rumberger, “almost all vulnerable patients have detectable plaque in their arteries and we now possess the tools to identify it years before their heart attack or stroke.”  The SHAPE Guideline calls for noninvasive screening, with 64-Slice CT Heart Scans to detect coronary calcium or Carotid Artery Ultrasound, of all men 45-75 years of age and women 55-75 years of age to detect and treat those with asymptomatic atherosclerosis.

Dr. David Fein, Medical Director of the Princeton Longevity Center states.”64 Slice CT Heart Scans allow us to see who actually has cardiovascular disease and who doesn’t.  That means we can treat the right patients and avoid using drugs for those who are not making plaque even if they have high cholesterol levels.  Treating patients for coronary disease without imaging the arteries is like treating hypertension with checking the blood pressure”.

A major advantage of the SHAPE Guidelines over the existing guidelines is the ability to more accurately identify those who are at risk and initiate effective treatment to prevent a patient’s first heart attack or stroke.  Approximately 25 million men and 20 million women would now qualify for treatment with statins as a result of early detection of high risk vascular disease.

In addition to a dramatic decline in cardiovascular mortality and disability, the shift from treatment of symptomatic disease to effective prevention is also expected to result in a substantial cost savings.  The Task Force estimates that the potential saving at more than $21 billion per year.

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