Coronary Calcium Scan
A coronary calcium scan uses computerised tomography to detect calcium deposits in the coronary arteries of your heart.
Who should get a coronary calcium scan?
You should consider a calcium scan if you are between ages 40-70 and at increased risk for heart disease but do not have symptoms.
A coronary calcium scan or heart scan is a non-invasive test that detects calcium containing plaque in your heart.
Using state of the art CT scanning, your doctor is able to pick up detailed images and information of your heart and check for blockages or build-up of plaque.
This scan is really quite important to check your heart health. The calcium containing plaque will slowly harden the longer it is left. It can slow down and block the blood flow in your heart, which means some parts of your body will not get the oxygen it needs and it can also lead to more serious conditions like coronary heart disease and blood clots that can lead to a heart attack.
A patient may not present with any symptoms of coronary heart disease but your doctor may notice some risk factors. You may be asked to have this scan if you are associated with the below:
- Family history of heart attacks
- Unhealthy lifestyle with physical inactivity
- Cigarette smoking
- High blood pressure and/or high blood cholesterol levels
How to prepare, during and after the scan
As this is just a scan there is no special type of preparation needed. Make sure you take your medication as necessary and try not to drink alcohol/caffeine or smoke four hours prior to the scan. It would be wise of you to wear comfortable loose-fitting clothes and no metal or jewellery.
During the scan you will lay on your back on a table which will slowly move in to a tube-like scanner. Your head will be out of the scanner the whole time. Small stickers will have already been attached to your chest and connected to an echocardiogram which will record the electrical activity of your heard during the test. While the CT is recording the images of your heart you will be asked to hold your breath for around 10-20 seconds. The entire test will take around 10-15 minutes.
After the scan you will be able to get dressed and go home or wait for your results if your referring doctor has advised. A radiologist will interpret the images of your heart and write a report on the findings. This will be sent as soon as possible to the referring doctor where he will also look at the images and report findings to form a correct diagnosis. You will be called in for a follow up consultation where he will explain the findings with you and consult on any next steps that may need to be taken.
Keeping your heart healthy involves maintaining an active lifestyle and identifying any potentially dangerous heart problems before they become more severe.