Stress test misses heart risk factor

Aug. 18, 2004 at 5:00 PM
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LOS ANGELES, Aug. 18 (UPI) -- A U.S. study shows stress tests do not adequately diagnose patients with latent atherosclerosis --hardening of the arteries that leads to heart disease.

Researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center said the finding may indicate patients who are screened and found to have normal stress levels may benefit from additional tests, such as X-ray topography, to detect coronary calcium, which causes latent atherosclerosis.

Using CT technology, doctors can get a patient's calcium score, which correlates directly to the risk of cardiac events such as a heart attack. A zero is the best score and anything over 100 indicates an increased risk.

The study found among 1,119 patients diagnosed with normal stress, 56 percent had a calcium score greater than 100 and 31 percent had a score greater than 400.

"These findings imply a potential role for the coronary calcium scan after an imaging stress test among patients whose results are normal," said Dr. Daniel Berman, director of cardiac imaging at the center.

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