Getting The Right Diagnosis

April 01, 2012

Before cardiac treatment can begin, an accurate diagnosis is essential. And in some cases, coronary CT angiography (CCTA) is the answer—especially for patients at intermediate risk of heart problems who are having symptoms like shortness of breath or chest pain.

This cardiac imaging technology is a non-invasive test that examines the arteries that supply blood to the heart. CCTA uses a CT scanner to capture images of those arteries, with the help of dye injected through an IV that “lights up” the arteries.

“The test gives us very accurate anatomical data as opposed to a stress test, which sometimes only tells us how the heart is functioning,” says John Tsakonas, M.D., director of non-invasive cardiology and assistant director of CT angiography at Providence Tarzana Medical Center. “CCTA will show us whether or not there’s a significant amount of plaque in the arteries, and we can use that information to develop a treatment plan.”