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According to a recent study, a rapid CT heart scan is better able to provide doctors with a more efficient method of diagnosing blocked arteries after a patient complains of chest pain. In the past, doctors have routinely used electrocardiograms, treadmill, and resting stress tests along with nuclear imaging, to diagnose blocked arteries. However, these tests are often longer and don’t always provide a clear diagnosis.

The author of the study, Kavitha Chinnaiyan of William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, MI, discovered that the rapid CT heart scan cuts the diagnosis time in half, and also saves 40% of the cost of the previous diagnostic methods. However, there is one drawback to the test: patients increase their exposure to medical radiation. Some doctors are concerned about the effects of such exposure on patients who routinely and frequently go to the hospital for chest pains.

Nevertheless, approximately 6 million people per year travel to the hospital complaining of chest pains, 60% of which are told that their symptoms are not serious and are sent home. Subsequently, 4 to 13% of those patients that are sent home suffer “missed” heart attacks, which can be fatal 10 to 25% of the time. Thus, the rapid CT heart scan could help reduce the incidence of “missed” diagnoses, ultimately saving lives.

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