Mammograms are important for BOTH breast and heart health!
We all know mammograms are effective in detecting breast cancer in the early stages. Mammograms may also be able to detect the early stages of heart disease as well. Yet another tool for doctors and women with heart disease risk factors to evaluate treatment needs.
How Could A Mammogram Predict Heart Disease?
The same technology which highlights calcifications, small deposits of minerals in breast tissue which appear as white spots on the x-ray also show calcification in blood vessels. Calcification in blood vessels is a significant indicator of the hardening of the arteries type of heart disease, called Atherosclerosis.
Don’t panic, however. Finding calcifications on a mammogram probably isn’t a sign of an impending heart attack, but it is and indication that more investigation should be done. Tests such as a treadmill stress test, which monitors your heart during exercise, and blood test should be done to determine the progression of heart disease in your body. Caught early, heart disease can be treated and well managed with lifestyle changes and medication.
If you are at high risk of heart disease ask the radiologist examining your x-rays to pay special attention to possible calcifications in the blood vessels. Having multiple years of exams to look at may be helpful in determining the progress of heart disease or the effectiveness of treatment.
Yet another reason to schedule AND KEEP your mammogram appointment!