Coronary Calcium Screening CT is a non-invasive imaging procedure that identifies early calcification or plaque buildup in the arteries. Early calcium or plaque deposits clogging the heart’s blood vessels are usually symptom free and do not have any warning signs, but may put a person at risk for heart attack. Coronary Calcium Screening CT takes precise images of the heart as it pumps, detecting vessel abnormalities without invasive procedures. Persons undergoing Coronary Calcium Screening CT receive minimal exposure to low-dose radiation.
- Am I a candidate for the Coronary Calcium Screening CT?
One of the greatest advantages of Coronary Calcium Screening CT is early disease detection in those who are well but possibly at risk for coronary artery disease. Coronary Calcium Screening is recommended for adults who are concerned about their risk factors for coronary disease. Some of the risks for coronary artery disease are:
- Family history of heart disease High LDL cholesterol High blood pressure Obesity
- Sedentary lifestyle Smoking Diabetes Age over 50 Sedentary Lifestyle
- Non candidates for the coronary calcium screening include: Patients with a cardiac pacemaker, 2) patients with known cardiovascular disease, and 3) patients with a very low LDL cholesterol.
- How does this test work?
A high-speed scanner, called a Multidetector CT, is used to capture many images of the heart. The scanner is synchronized with the patient’s heartbeat via an electrocardiogram (EKG) device. A computer program then scores the images for the presence and degree of calcification within the coronary arteries. The examination is simple, safe and painless (no needles) and there are no diet restrictions. The scan itself takes only a about ten minutes.
- What is involved in the Coronary Calcium Screening CT?
Plan enough time for patient registration prior to proceeding to the radiology department. When you arrive for your test you be asked to complete a questionnaire. Once completed, a radiology technologist will escort you to the scanning room. The technologist will place EKG leads on your chest enabling the scanner to take dozens of images during those fractions of a second between beats, when your heart is still.
- Is there any prep for the test?
Avoid caffeine, antihistamines, and chewing nicotine gum prior to your test, as they can elevate your heart rate, making it more difficult to obtain a high quality scan. No exercise just prior to exam, as it can also elevate your heart rate, making it more difficult to obtain a high quality scan.
- How are the results of the screening interpreted?
A computer program analyzes the extent of calcified coronary plaque in the entire coronary system. A board certified radiologist verifies this score. The higher your score, the greater your risk for heart disease in the future. A “zero” score is considered negative but does not rule out the possibility of the presence of “soft” noncalcified plaque. We will fax a report of the results to your ordering physician and you will receive the results on CD Rom along with a written report. Your Primary Care Physician can consult with you with regards to recommendations for medical and/or lifestyle treatments.