With all the high tech machines we have now to check for heart trouble, a national heart disease prevention task force says don't just save that for high risk patients, but use it to "save" seemingly healthy people before they surprise their loved ones and drop dead of a heart attack.
The SHAPE Task Force, which stands for Screening for Heart Attack Prevention and Education is made up of international cardiologists and researchers. It is recommending a coronary artery scan or a test to measure the thickness of artery walls for all men by age forty-five, and for women by fifty-five to look for signs of narrowing or blocked arteries.
"This test picks up the development of disease at its earliest possible stage," said Dr. Alan Wasserman of the Coronary Scan Company.
"The chances of being correct are approximately fifty percent equivalent to the flip of a coin," said Dr. Harvey Hecht of the Shape Task Force.
That's one reason the American Heart Association does not endorse the guidelines for healthy people. Also, the tests are widely available but expensive and generally not covered by insurance. So despite the task forces recommendations, the AHA suggests hi-tech heart screening only for high risk patients.