People checked with a heart CT scan after seeing a doctor for chest pain have no less risk of heart attack, dying, or being hospitalized months later than those who take a simple treadmill test or other older exam, a big federal study has found.

The results were a surprise: CT scans, fancy X-rays that give 3D images of heart arteries, were expected to prove best and instead turned out to be just a reasonable alternative.

The study involved more than 10,000 patients in the United States and Canada. Results were announced at an American College of Cardiology conference in San Diego and published online by the New England Journal of Medicine.

In the study, half of the patients were given CT scans. The rest got whatever other test their doctors chose to evaluate how well their hearts were working - a sign of whether they're getting enough blood from heart arteries.

Regardless of which test they got, only three percent of patients went on die, have a heart attack, or require heart-related hospitalization.

- Associated Press