University Health Care: Cardiovascular Disease and Prevention

Sheldon Litwin, M.D., cardiologist and director of Cardiovascular Imaging at University Health Care, talks about the disease and how to prevent it.

What is cardiovascular disease?

• According to the American Heart Association, one in three adults—79 million Americans—experience some type of cardiovascular disease.

• Cardiovascular disease includes a number of conditions affecting the structures or function of the heart which include (but are not limited to) coronary artery disease (including heart attack), heart failure, abnormal heart rhythms, heart valve disease, congenital heart disease and vascular disease.

• Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women in the U.S.

• Much of these diseases could be prevented with early diagnosis.

Who is at risk?

• People who have hypertension, high cholesterol, or a family history of cardiovascular disease.

• Most people are asymptomatic. For 25 percent of them, chest pain or a heart attack will be their first symptom.

Advancements in Cardiovascular Imaging Are Helping With Early Diagnosis

• University of Utah Health Care uses a number of high-tech tools, like our Dual Source CT scanner, to help diagnose patients with cardiovascular disease. New technology helps diagnose heart conditions early than ever, and without surgical intervention.

• Our CT scanner can be used to create an image of a single heartbeat to assess arrhythmia, assess plaque buildup, see inside stents, and scan the entire heart in 10 seconds.

• The imaging is non-invasive, contains little or no risk to the patient, is fast, repeatable and exposes the patient to less radiation than previous scanners.

• Conventional stress tests find severe blockages in the arteries, but the CT scanner’s three dimensional imaging, speed, and resolution allows physicians to see blockages in arteries only 2 millimeters in diameter. The goal is to find the blockages in the early stages before they cause symptoms, such as a heart attack.

For more information, visit University of Utah Health Care online at

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