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Sensation 64-Slice CT High Definition Coronary Artery Scans

I don't want to know if something is wrong. Won't the scan make me too nervous?

What type of scaner is used?

What happens during the scan?

What about the radiation exposure?

How long does a scan take?

Do I need to fast?

Do I need a referral from my physician?

Is the scan covered by my insurance?

How accurate is a Heart Scan?

My cholesterol level is normal.  Should I still have a Heart Scan?

What if I already know I have heart disease?

I was told the scan can't detect "soft" plaque.  Does that matter?

I already passed a stress test. Should I still have a scan?

How does the scan detect coronary artery disease?

What about blood tests like C-Reactive Protein and Homocysteine?

Is this the same scan that I saw on Oprah or in the newspapers?

What do I do with my test results?

What makes the Princeton Longevity Center's scans different from all the other scanning centers that I have seen or heard advertised?


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I don't want to know if something is wrong. Won't the scan make me too nervous?

Heart disease is extremely treatable, especially if found early. If your scan shows that you are at risk for developing coronary artery disease, we can show you how simple changes or treatments can dramatically alter your risk and lessen the chances that you will have a heart attack. Avoiding a scan will not stop the disease. Knowing what simple steps you can take will make a big difference in the quality of the rest of your life.

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What type of scanner is used?

Our scans are done with a Siemens Definition AS 64 Slice CT Scanner. This state of the art scanner uses very low radiation doses and produces exceptional detail, as small as 1/50th of an inch. The scans are also extremely fast, usually less than 10 seconds, so there is no need for prolonged breath-holds. The scanner is completely non-claustrophic.

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What happens during the scan? Is it uncomfortable?

64 Slice CT scans are quick, painless and safe. You lie on a table and hold your breath for a few seconds. There are no needles or dyes; it is not claustrophobic and you usually don't even have to remove your clothes.

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What about the radiation exposure?

There has been a lot of attention in the media surrounding the issue of radiation exposure. We keep our doses as low as possible. Our Coronary Calcium Heart Scans generally involve a dose of about 1 mSv, an amount much lower than is typically cited in the media. According to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission the risk of 1 mSv is about 1 in 25,000 or, put another way, it raises your cancer risk from 20.000% to just 20.004%. On the other hand, your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease that goes undetected and untreated is 36%. We believe that the potential benefit of early detection of cardiovascular or other diseases more than offsets the extremely small potential risk of this level of radiation exposure.

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How long does a scan take?

The heart, lung or whole body scans take just a few seconds. We will spend some time explaining the procedure to you before the scan. You will get your results within a few mintues. Altogether, you should plan on being at our center about 30 minutes.

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Do I need to fast?

No. There is no special preparation or fasting required for heart, lung or whole body scans.

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Do I need a referral from my physician?

No. While many physicians do refer their patients for these scans, we do not require physician referrals. However, we do encourage you to discuss the test with your physician. With your consent, we will send a copy of your results to your physician along with any recommendations for further treatment or testing.

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Is the scan covered by my insurance?

Most private insurance plans will notcover coronary artery scans .  In some cases, the coverage will depend on whether the test is done solely as a preventive screening test or to help your doctor make a decision about your treatment. 

Medicare Beneficiaries please note: In general, Medicare does not cover preventive services. Coronary Arteries Scans (CPT Code 75571) are specifically a non-covered service. You will not be able to receive any reimbursement from Medicare for these services.

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How accurate is the Coronary Artery Scan?

It is VERY accurate.  There are no false-positives.  The presence of calcium in the coronary artery means there is plaque there.  The relationship between calcium in the artery and the risk of a heart attack has been well established in numerous medical studies.  The more calcium present the higher your risk of a heart attack.  The absence of any calcium on your scan means you are not at risk for a heart attack with a 99.9% certainty.

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My cholesterol level is normal so why should I bother with a coronary scan?

Study after study has shown that cholesterol levels do NOT accurately predict who will  have a heart attack.  In fact, 70% of heart attacks occur in people with "normal" cholesterol levels.  Even if your cholesterol level is below the current guidelines you can still develop coronary artery disease.  With coronary artery scans we can tell if your current cholesterol level is safe for you or if it needs to be lower.

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What if I already know I have heart disease?

Coronary artery scans are useful not only in early detection of disease but also for following the course of the disease. The scan can be used to monitor your treatment with diet, medication, etc. If your treatment is working, the scan will show the improvement. If it is not working, serial scans can show the continuing progression of the coronary artery disease and alert your physician to the need for more aggressive or alternative treatments.

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I was told coronary artery scans can't detect "soft plaque" and isn't that really where the danger is?

While it is true that a coronary artery scan only shows "calcified plaque" and not "soft plaque" (plaque that has not yet calcified), that does not make the scan any less useful.  Calcified plaque serves as a marker for the presence of soft plaque.  Numerous studies have proven that the coronary artery scan is the most accurate and sensitive predictor of your risk of having a heart attack or significant coronary artery disease.    If you don't have any calcified plaque the likelihood that there is any soft plaque is extremely small.  No other non-invasive test can detect the presence of early coronary artery disease as well as coronary scans.

If you have a high level of calcified plaque or your clinical history warrants further investigation, a CT Angiography will very reliably detect the presence of soft plaque and measure whether there is a signficant blockage in the arteries.

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I already passed a stress test. Should I still have a scan?

Stress tests only show an abnormality if you have an artery that is at least 65-80% blocked.   At that point, treatment may require surgery or angioplasty.  And, 70% of heart attacks happen in arteries that are less than 50% blocked and a stress test would not have shown anything wrong.  The coronary artery scan can detect developing blockages much earlier, often many years before anything is detectable on a stress test. At that point, treatment with minor changes in diet and lifestyle along with nutritional supplements or medications can be very effective in preventing any worsening of the disease. That can allow you to avoid surgery or invasive procedures later on.

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How does the scan detect coronary artery disease?

The coronary artery scan detects the presence of calcium deposits in the wall of the arteries. These are often present long before blockages have become severe enough to be found by other means such as stress tests. Coronary artery calcium deposits are a "clinical marker" for coronary artery disease. The more calcium present the higher the risk that you may have a heart attack.

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What about blood tests like C-Reactive Protein or Homocysteine levels? Can't they tell if I have heart disease?

There is currently NO blood test that is able to tell if you have coronary artery disease.  Blood tests can only estimate your probability of getting coronary disease.  Many people with high levels of cholesterol, C-Reactive Protein or Homocysteine do not have coronary artery disease.  At the same time, it is common to still get coronary disease even if those tests are normal.  Relying solely on those tests means treating a lot of people who do not actually need to be treated and missing a lot of cases where heart attacks could have been prevented.  Coronary scans look directly at your own arteries to see if you have a problem or not.  Then, treatment is based on what is actually going on in your arteries instead of a statistical "guess".

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Is this the same scan that I saw on Oprah or in the newspapers?

Yes. 64-Slice CT Scans have been prominently featured on many national talk shows and in numerous magazines and other publications.

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What do I do with my test results?

You will get a copy of your test results along with a detailed explanation of the significance of the restuls immediately after your scan. We strongly encourage you to share these results with your physician to seek his/her advice as to any additional treatment that may be recommended.

Our Full Body Scans include a consultation with one of our expert physicians who will also explain the significance of the heart scan results. If you have a Full Body Scan (either with your heart scan or as part of a Comprehensive Exam) you will also get a preliminary review, pending the final report by our radiologist.
If you are referred by your physician, the report will be sent to your physician and further management should be discussed with your doctor. If you are not referred by a physician, the discussion of your scan results will include general guidelines for steps you can take to help lower your future health risks.

Imaging studies and other medical tests may reveal findings that require additional evaluation or treatment. THe Princeton Longevity Center does not offer Primary Care or on-going medical management. All findings related to any tests performed at Princeton Longevity Center should be discussed by you with your Primary Care or Family Physician. If additional testing or treatment is warranted this can be arranged through your personal physician. A copy of your results will be sent to any physician you designate.

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What makes the Princeton Longevity Center's scans different from all the other scanning centers that I have seen or heard advertised?

For cardiac scans, the 64-Slice CT Scanner is the "gold standard." The Princeton Longevity Center is the region's leader in Cardiac Imaging and prevention. We don't just do Cardiac CT, we TEACH it. Our physicians have trained over a thousand physicians from around the world at our renowned Cardiac CT Training Course. Our scans are read twice, including our premier experts in cardiac imaging and radiologists expert in body scans. No other cardiac imaging center in the area offers this level of expertise in the interpretation of your results.

The Princeton Longevity Center is the only scanning center in the region that goes beyond scanning. Our staff of expert physicians, nutritionists and exercise physiologists are available to show you how to take the next step with our Comprehensive Exam program.

After we explain your results to you in-depth, our comprehensive preventive medicine center can offer you the tools and resources you need to immediately start to take a proactive role in your health. We work with you and your family physician to design a plan that will quickly start to lower your risk of heart attack and many other life-threatening diseases.

Other scanning centers may be able to tell you if there is a problem. The Princeton Longevity Center will tell you what you can do about the problem and help you take the next step to a healthier future.

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