NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 11, 2006

Men older than age 45 and women older than age 55 should receive tests for heart disease regardless of whether they are experiencing symptoms, according to a report published in the American Journal of Cardiology.

The report, compiled by the Screening for Heart Attack Prevention and Education task force, urges men and women in the age groups to undergo a CT scan or ultrasound to determine whether plague build-up is evident in their arteries.  Most major insurance companies will not cover the cost of the tests, which can range from $100 to $400.

According to researchers:

  • The tests could prevent more than 90,000 deaths each year and save about $21.5 billion annually in health costs for treating heart disease.
  • The traditional heart disease screening method -- which examines a person's family history, blood pressure, age, cholesterol and history of smoking and diabetes -- is inadequate to properly determine the risk for heart disease, according to the task force.
  • About half of the 1.5 million people in the United States who experience a heart attack each year were unaware they had heart disease.

Imaging reveals that a lot of people who have normal or average cholesterol and normal to average blood pressure have an enormous amount of plaque.  These people are walking time bombs, says Morteza Naghavi, task force chair and founder of its parent group, the Association for Eradication of Heart Attack.

Source: "Experts: Screen Most Older Adults to Prevent Heart Attacks," Forbes, July 10, 2006.


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