What is CT calcium scoring?
Calcium scoring is a noninvasive way to view your coronary arteries and help identify the location and extent of calcified plaque. A buildup can signal the presence of atherosclerosis, also called coronary artery disease (CAD). This disease can narrow arteries, reduce blood flow to the heart, and lead to an increased risk for heart attack.
More than a million Americans have a heart attack each year. Nearly half of them are fatal. Over half the people who die from a heart attack have no symptoms. The scan is designed for undiagnosed people. It can show whether you're at risk before symptoms occur.
Men over 45 and women over 50 are more likely to be at risk. Are you 20 pounds or more overweight? Do you have diabetes? Does your family have a history of heart disease? If so, you're more likely to be at risk. Mexican Americans, American Indians, native Hawaiians, some Asian Americans, and African Americans are at higher risk due to higher rates of obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
How do I prepare?
No preparation is needed. Wear comfortable clothes and take your normal medications. Be sure to inform the receptionist and technologist if there is any chance of pregnancy.
What do I do when I arrive?
Present your prescription, insurance card and completed forms at the front desk. If any additional forms are required, they will be given to you at this time.
Be sure to inform the receptionist and technologist if you:
Plan to arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment.
What happens during the test?
Calcium scoring scans take about 15 minutes, and are easy and painless. Electrodes connect your chest to an electrocardiograph machine to record your heart's electrical activity. You lay on a CT table that moves through the machine as you're scanned. You may be asked to hold your breath while images are recorded. Normal activities can be resumed immediately.
What do the results show?
Your score is based on the amount of calcium in your coronary (heart) arteries. A negative scan showing no calcification suggests minimal plaque and a low chance of coronary artery disease for five years. A positive test reports coronary artery disease. Your score may help predict the likelihood of a heart attack, and can help determine what measures to undertake.
What happens after the test?
One of our board certified radiologists interprets your images, compares them to any previous studies and dictates a report which is transcribed, proofread and signed. The report is then faxed and mailed to your referring doctor within one or two days. Your doctor will read the report and review the findings with you.
How can you keep your heart healthy?
Know your family history, eat heart-healthy foods, and get (or stay) active. Don't smoke! Smoking raises the risk of heart disease when combined with unhealthy blood cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and obesity. Monitor and maintain healthy blood cholesterol (200 or less) and blood pressure (120/80 or less).