Intermountain study to use CT scans to ID persons at cardiac risk

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Intermountain Healthcare Heart Institute is testing a new standard of care to better identify persons at risk of having a heart attack and trying to stop them.

Researchers plan to use a series of computed tomography scans while assessing different types of possible treatment. The study of more than 90,000 people in Utah could change how cardiovascular-related diseases are diagnosed, leading to more accurate screening and improved diagnoses.

“The Intermountain Coronary Calcium study, or CorCal, will determine if adding a CT scan to the tests we already do will help to more accurately identify people that are at risk of a heart attack or stroke,” says J. Brent Muhlestein, principal investigator of the study and co-director of cardiovascular research.

Also See: FDA okays use of algorithm to ID cardiac risk from CT scans

An immediate need is to identify patients at risk and have them register online. Researchers will test effectiveness of existing heart prevention guidelines centered around cholesterol testing and compare it with a strategy that includes performing a low-dose CT scan of the heart to screen for buildup of calcium in the arteries, which is associated with increased risk of heart attack or stroke.

“Doing a CT scan will create a coronary artery calcium score,” Muhlestein explains. “It’s also possible that doing another test and looking at another score will not make any difference. Our goal is to find the test or group of tests that are the best at finding people at risk.”

Based on results of persons participating in the study, their primary care physician may be notified by the research team if a patient should start taking statins or aspirin to help prevent potential future events.

Researchers also will use the Intermountain electronic health record to identify patients who are 50 to 85 years old and who are not on statins and have no known history of diabetes or vascular disease. Overall, the hope is that out of the possible 90,000 potential enrollees, the study can enroll at least 9,000 into the clinical trial scheduled to run until March 2023.

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