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Life Sciences => Physiology & Medicine => Topic started by: demografx on 22/04/2010 22:34:49

Title: Is an angiogram the only way to detect serious heart condition, artery blockage?
Post by: demografx on 22/04/2010 22:34:49

I recently went through emergency open heart surgery, with a quintuple bypass.

Not a clue anything was this wrong for my whole life, although I probably had blocked arteries for DECADES, according to my surgeon.

My conclusion is that, with certain risk factors like mine, i.e., family history, age, high blood pressure (treated well), and high cholesterol (treated well), an angiogram was necessary long, long ago.

An angiogram seemed to be the only test that ever revealed my condition. I had taken all the recommended GP and cardiologist-recommended steps faithfully, stress tests, ultrasounds, EKG, etc., year after year.

But an angiogram was the only test that revealed my condition!

I suspect that there are millions of "walking time bombs" out there in a similar condition, i.e., many people with undetected but dangerous arterial plaque buildup.

The only reason the angiogram was done was because I went to the ER complaining of chest pain. Only 2-3 minutes' worth. I didn't even feel it necessary to go. My wife insisted.

Why can't an angiogram be given more routinely, before someone with risk factors like mine has serious trouble, like the chest pains that I had, or worse, a heart attack...often when it's too late!?

What finally prompted this post was an email that a friend of a friend died suddenly last week at age 55, in the gym, someone who did everything "right", nutrition, diet, exercise, lifestyle, etc. I don't know if there's a correlation to my angiogram concerns, but it made me stop and think (again).
Title: Is an angiogram the only way to detect serious heart condition, artery blockage?
Post by: Geezer on 23/04/2010 20:43:40
My doctor told me EKGs are not much use. He mentioned something about a new test that, I think, involves an MRI. Is that different from an angiogram? 'scuse my ignorance on this subject.

I probably should be paying a lot more attention. My best man keeled over in his mid fifties a few years ago. He'd just been to the doctor because he was not feeling quite right.

He was in the UK. I think his chances might have been better if he had been in the US. Doctors here tend to go a bit overboard with diagnostics, which in his case would have been a very good thing. I know my doctor would have subjected me to every possible test under similar circumstances.
Title: Is an angiogram the only way to detect serious heart condition, artery blockage?
Post by: demografx on 24/04/2010 22:28:59

Thanks, Geezer. I'm not sure if the new test you're referring to is MRI-related, but one new procedure I was advised of in the hospital is a non invasive angiogram.

I decided not to go with it because (1) insurance won't cover it and (2) the procedure is not as comprehensive as the conventional angiogram, so it might have led me right back to square one, with one more diagnostic than necessary. And it would have delayed the bypass that I needed immediately.

As far as I can see, the angiogram is a crucial procedure for those with heart risk factors, but it's only done when the patient has already suffered serious symptoms!

Something should be done earlier for people with risk factors!
Title: Is an angiogram the only way to detect serious heart condition, artery blockage?
Post by: Geezer on 25/04/2010 03:44:03
I think this is probably what my doc was referring to. It's a Cardiac MRI and it's non-invasive.

http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/mri/mri_whatis.html
Title: Is an angiogram the only way to detect serious heart condition, artery blockage?
Post by: demografx on 25/04/2010 08:23:31
The Cardiac MRI looks very similar to a test that I had last year. For my dangerous problem of plaque obstruction, my understanding is that the noninvasive tests won't be definitive for that particular problem, although your link shows that it can uncover many heart ailments.

Geezer, thanks again, you helped me better define my soapbox more specifically! Well, here it is, FWIW [;D]

I think that angiograms should be done for as many people as possible at risk, so that dangerous arterial plaque buildup can be better detected. Before it's too late.