Harvard Heart Letter

Heart scans hold intermediate promise

CT scans for calcium in the heart's arteries only benefit people in the gray zone of heart disease risk.

A debate over whether fast CT scanners should be used to go looking for "silent" heart disease still rages. These machines can detect calcium in the walls of coronary arteries, a sign of atherosclerotic plaque. Proponents claim that scans for coronary calcium save lives. Opponents argue that they do more harm than good by unnecessarily worrying people and leading to stent implantation or even bypass surgery without proven benefit.

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