Electron Beam Tomography in Women: Is It a Valuable Test?

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Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of mortality in women and a major cause of morbidity. Coronary artery disease (CAD) accounts for nearly half of all CVD deaths. Traditional risk factors are very helpful in predicting the development of CAD in women; however, many women suffer events in the absence of established risk factors for atherosclerosis. To meet the challenge of CAD, several tools have been developed to identify atherosclerotic disease in its preclinical stages, with the hope of modifying its natural history. In this article, we review the current literature on utilization of electron beam tomography (EBT) for detection of CAD as a tool to conduct risk stratification in the general asymptomatic female population as well as among asymptomatic women. In conclusion, EBT can be used to estimate the overall coronary atherosclerotic plaque burden in women. It can also be used to diagnose its presence and determine its extent; furthermore, information from the coronary artery calcium scores can be used to assess the likelihood of obstructive disease and to provide prognostic information. Finally, EBT has the potential to determine the consequences of therapeutic interventions regarding progression, stabilization, or regression of coronary atherosclerotic disease.

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