The role of calcium in the prediction of cardiac diseases is very important. Patients with high blood calcium levels are more than ten times at risk of developing cardiac problems in the future. There are many CT techniques that can be used for cardiac calcium assessment. These include EBT and Agatston scores. The role of MDCT is still under trial investigations, and its efficacy is being tested. The new addition of two new measurements is calcium volume and calcium mass respectively. (White and Reed, 2004) A big area of debate in this procedure is the cost of the CT scan.
Many researches think that it is unnecessary to carry out coronary calcium scores, when preventive strategies such as aspirin use, and advice to adopt a healthy life style are present. The coronary artery calcium scores are now one of the best methods to detect and predict cardiovascular events in patients who may be asymptomatic at the time. The current CT scan modalities are extremely sensitive to detect any calcium deposition that may be taking place in the patient’s arteries. Studies have shown strong graded association between CAC scores and cardiac events.
This method has become popular as it is able to timely identify asymptomatic yet high risk patients. However, there is need to collect data and adjust it to different ages and sex of the people to come up with accurate predictions. Other complicating factors such as diabetes or history of cardiac diseases may be an important indicator and modifier of the cardiac event. This association is the reason why many hospitals are now employing CT scanning for screening purposes among individuals. (LaMonte et al, 2006) UNDERSTANDING THE ANATOMY OF THE HEART:
With more detail and resolution of the CT imaging, it is now possible to identify the true dimensions of the structure of the heart. Cardiac chamber size and the thickness of the walls of the heart can be accurately assessed. Apart from the right sided valves, most of the structures of the heart are easily deciphered. Tissues and areas that can be easily delineated include the mitral and aortic valves and their thicknesses, thrombi present at the apex of the left ventricle, left atrial appendage, cardiac tumors such as myxomas and metastasis, and congenital heart conditions.
The left atrium and pulmonary veins are now among the newer areas where cardiac CT is used in order to plan atrial fibrillation ablation therapy. (White and Reed, 2004) Understanding the anatomy of the heart can help in carrying out any surgical procedures that may be required by the patient, and may aid the surgeons in the correct placement and sequence of the surgical procedure. It can also help in deciding whether a diagnosis and intervention required will be of invasive or non invasive nature. (Escolar et al, 2006)
FUNCTIONAL ASSESMENT OF THE CARDIAC TISSUE: The procedure is as effective an assessment tool as it is a diagnostic one. With the evolution of scanners in the MDCT design, normal functions of the heart such as ejection fraction, stroke volume, wall motion, and wall thickness can be easily identified. (White and Reed, 2004) DELINEATING CARDIAC PERFUSION AND QUALITY: CT scans can be used very successfully to understand and delineate the cardiac perfusion rates in different areas of the heart. (White and Reed, 2004)
The visualization of the coronary atherosclerotic plaque is another important diagnostic achievement of this procedure. MDCT is able to assess the presence, amount, and composition of the non calcified atherosclerotic plaques. It can also assess the degree of remodeling that has taken place in the proximal segments. While this specification is up to 90% accurate in the case of mixed and calcified plaques, same cannot be said for completely uncalcified plaques, where accuracy drops to 60% to 85%. (Hoffman et al, 2006)