"50% of people who have heart attacks have normal cholesterol."So if cholesterol isn't a good indicator of heart attack, what is? Looking at blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker for inflammation (but you can't tell where), was supposed to help. But a new study in the journal Lancet found that having a CT scan to view calcium build-up in arteries was better than CRP testing.
Here's the odd part. If the test shows calcium in arteries, the therapy is to give statins. Statins lower production of cholesterol, and right up front they said that half of people who have heart attacks have normal cholesterol.
Scans may be quick and painless as the article said, but they are not cheap, and they are not without risk. There is no level of radiation that is risk-free. People who have diminished ability to repair DNA are at significantly higher risk of cancer from these procedures.
They also may not work:
"For many, calcium presence in the arteries does not necessarily indicate heart disease or even a looming heart attack. Studies have yet to show that calcium scans have reduced the risk of heart attack or death from heart disease."Dr. Steven Nissen, chair of cardiovascular medicine at Cleveland Clinic, said:
"Calcium scanning is one of the worst examples of medicine gone wild. It's taken on a 'cultlike' following."Dr. Howard Weintraub, clinical director of New York University Center for Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease, said:
"This test has led many to perform more invasive tests and then potentially act on its findings. Even though in the vast majority the intervention will do nothing to prevent [heart attack] or death and, in the absence of pre-existing symptoms, won't improve quality of life."This is how spending on healthcare is going through the roof ... without concomitant improvement in health. This is why we need comparative effectiveness research.