What if there was a way to test for two deadly diseases that are big killers of women at once? Well, according to researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, there is a routine screening test that can do just that. And it's a complete surprise!
The test: a mammogram. And it can not only pick up breast cancer, but heart disease.
Here's why: Besides showing doctors where cancerous cells have begun to form tumors, a mammogram can also detect calcium deposits in the arteries that supply blood to a woman's breasts. Doctors already know that too much calcium in your blood vessels is an early sign of heart disease--and as much a predictor of a heart attack as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
The study looked at 300 middle-aged women who'd had a mammogram. Forty-two percent had calcium deposits in the veins of their breasts. When doctors did a follow-up scan of their hearts, they found that nearly three-fourths of these women also had calcium build-up in those blood vessels.
The researchers at Mt. Sinai hope that radiologists will soon be able to add the information about calcium deposits to their reports. And that would be a good thing. Heart attacks are the leading cause of death in women. Yet heart disease is reversible when it is caught early--as it would be on a mammogram.
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