CT Scan Beneficial for Men, Not Women

CT scan of coronary calcium found not cost effective for women

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Men and women are just wired differently. And for this reason it makes sense that measures taken to identify and treat heart disease in men might not make sense in women.

Dutch researchers have determined that a CT scan for coronary calcium to determine heart disease risk is worth the cost for men, but not for women. A coronary calcium CT scan allows doctors to determine the amount of plaque build up in blood vessels that lead to the heart.

"Ask about a CT scan if you have a high risk of heart disease."

Bob J.H. van Kempen, the study's lead researcher from Erasmus Medical Center's department of epidemiology in the Netherlands, and his colleagues found that the screening tool for patients with a moderate risk of heart disease benefits men, but that women would be better served through lifestyle advice and medications.

Researchers used a computer model to evaluate four different scenarios, then considered the chance patients would have a heart attack or stroke and its impact on costs and risks. The strategies evaluated included general treatment without specific interventions for the heart, treatment with heart-related lifestyle management, CT screening for coronary calcium, and blood pressure and cholesterol medications for all patients.

The computer program then simulated the intermediate risk over a patient's lifetime in those of varying ages and genders, and determined treatment costs and the cost effectiveness of such treatments.

They found that in men CT scanning for coronary calcium was more effective, but also more expensive than the other three strategies. Investigators calculated that an additional $48,800 would need to be spent for each extra year of quality health in men.

In women, CT screening also was more costly and more effective than other options, but did not appear to be cost effective.

The research was recently published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
October 14, 2011
Last Updated:
October 14, 2011