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Aspirin and Calcium Screening

(KETK) - A local hospital is now offering a test to determine if you are at a high risk for heart disease and if you need to be put on an aspirin regime.

The Food and Drug Administration said that aspirin is very useful for people who had prior heart attacks, strokes, or had stents put in their hearts. But, if you've never had a prior problem, aspirin might not be a benefit.

"If you've ever had a heart attack or stroke, you really should be on an aspirin regimen," said Trinity Clinic Cardiologist Dr. Ramon Kumar, MD.

Dr. Kumar prescribed his 79-year-old patient 81 milligrams a day, after she had a valve replaced.

"I feel great and I really feel I was taking aspirin before I had heart problems."

So for those confused if they should be on an aspirin regime, even though they have never had any heart problems, there is a new test Trinity Mother Frances hospital offers to determine if you should.

"As a doctor, it's very difficult to determine which patients are at a high risk for having problems and what patients are at a low risk," said Dr. Kumar.

It's called the Coronary Calcium Score. Dr. Kumar said the test is very quick. You're in the cat scanner for less than 30 seconds.

"The patients that have never had a problem, never had a heart attack or a stroke or any stents or anything like that and you have an abnormal calcium score, that is definitely a patient I would put on aspirin if the bleeding risk is low" said Dr. Kumar.

The test is $49 and if you're interested, you can call the hospital. The results will be read by one of their cardiologist and you will automatically get a phone call and a letter if the test is abnormal.

"This is mainly for patients who never have had problems before. You get a cat scan of their chest and what you're doing there is you're looking to see how much calcium is in the walls of the arteries. If the calcium level is high, indicating a high level of calcium, that means that patient is at high risk for future events and that is a patient that would probably benefit from aspirin," said Dr. Kumar.

Dr. Kumar said he recommends this test for people 60 or older, or if you're younger and have high blood pressure, diabetes, or smoke.

He said they've helped so many "high risk patient's" that wouldn't have known otherwise.