Dixie Regional Medical Center offers new procedure to better assess risk of heart attack

Stock image | Photo by stevanovicigor/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A new procedure is available at Intermountain Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George to provide more accurate cardiovascular risk assessments for heart patients.

Cardiac positron emission tomography/computed tomography more clearly determines a patient’s risk for a heart attack or other heart event. This noninvasive test measures how well a patient’s blood flows through the heart. PET/CT allows physicians doing a chemical stress test to also measure coronary artery calcification, which can be used to assess a person’s risk of heart attack or other heart problems.

Patients who are tested receive the results in follow-up appointments with their cardiologist. Lifestyle changes and other treatments may be prescribed proactively.

Read more: ‘Prevention is the first thing’; Dixie Regional to host free heart health education series

“I’m 74 years old and I’ve had high cholesterol for as long as I can remember,” said Richard Bergeron, Dixie Regional’s first cardiac PET/CT patient. “My cardiologist thought it would be great if I got this test and I thought, ‘Why not?’ If it shows how much artery blockage I have, that would be fantastic. It will help me do what I can to avoid a heart attack.”

Studies on cardiac PET/CT have shown the test provides patients and doctors with better diagnostic accuracy, reduces the need for additional testing, lowers a patient’s exposure to radiation, reduces the length of a test, reduces costs and gives doctors the ability to accurately evaluate patients weighing up to 500 lbs.

“Cardiac PET/CT is the gold standard for noninvasive evaluation for coronary artery disease,” said Zach Williams, a cardiologist at Dixie Regional. “We have been working on getting this to St. George for more than two years. We are fortunate in St. George, because very few heart centers in America actually have PET/CT. This will be a huge benefit to the community and will improve our ability to prevent and treat heart disease.”

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