What is a Coronary Calcium Scan?
Coronary calcium scans use a special X-ray test called computed tomography (CT) to check for the buildup of calcium in plaque on the walls of the arteries of the heart (coronary arteries). This test is used to check for heart disease in an early stage and to determine how severe it is. Coronary calcium scans are also called cardiac calcium scoring.
The coronary arteries supply blood to the heart. Normally, the coronary arteries do not contain calcium. Calcium in the coronary arteries is a sign of coronary artery disease (CAD).
A CT scan takes pictures of the heart in thin sections. The pictures are recorded in a computer and can be saved for more study or printed out as photographs.
How the Test Works
Using SLHV’s 64-slice CT scan, technologists will create a clear, two-dimensional view of the heart and arteries. These images are analyzed for the presence of calcium within the arteries. Although actual scan time is about ten to fifteen minutes, patients should allow for one hour for their appointment. For questions about the scan, give us a call at (314) 218-9656.
Patients Who Benefit
Men 35 and older or women 45 and older with at least one coronary risk factor:
- Family history of heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Peripheral vascular disease
- More than ideal body weight
Men 45 and older and women 55 and older without risk factors should consider having the scan. People with diabetes who are 30 and older should also consider having the scan.
However, people who are pregnant, who already know they have heart disease, who weigh more than 300 pounds or who are over 70 years of age should not take the test.
Because of exposure to radiation, patients should be informed of the risk. The effective radiation dose from this procedure is equivalent to 25 chest x-rays for males and 33 chest x-rays for females. However, the potential benefit of the scan likely outweighs the minimal risk of the scan’s radiation exposure.