Coronary CT Scans: Dangerous and Best Avoided

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I am asked by many patients if they should get a coronary CT scan to evaluate the status of their coronary arteries. Coronary CT scans are a noninvasive way to visualize calcification in the coronary arteries. The only other way to visualize atherosclerotic changes in the coronary arteries is through an angiogram where a catheter from the groin is thread to the coronary arteries.

It must be better to do a coronary CT scan – versus an angiogram – since it is non-invasive – right? The answer to this question is easy; coronary CT scans should be avoided.

As a population, we undergo too many CT scans. CT scans expose the body to a huge amount of radiation. A coronary CT scan can supply 100x the radiation of a chest X-ray. There are estimates that over two percent of all cancers in the U.S. are the result of too many X-ray procedures with CT scans being the leading radiologic cause of harmful medical radiation.

You would expect an effective medical screening test would lead to early diagnosis in order to improve the outcome of the disease – correct? In the case of heart disease, coronary CT scans should be able to safely diagnose atherosclerosis before a problem develops. Furthermore, the treatment plan should result in a lowered cardiac event rate (i.e., less heart attacks and death).

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David Brownstein, M.D. is a Board-Certified family physician and is one of the foremost practitioners of holistic medicine. He is the Medical Director of the Center for Holistic Medicine in West Bloomfield, MI. Dr. Brownstein has lectured internationally to physicians and others about his success in using natural hormones and nutritional therapies in his practice.