Coronary Artery Calcium Scoring or CT Calcium Scoring is a test that can detect coronary heart disease in its earliest stages in the arteries of the heart. These arteries (vessels) supply oxygen-containing blood to the heart wall. Calcium scoring measures calcium deposits (hardened plaque)
that narrow these vessels.
Traditional testing cannot detect these calcium deposits until they have narrowed the arteries by at least 50 percent, yet narrowing of only 30 to 50 percent is common in people who have already had heart attacks. Coronary atherosclerosis, as detected by these calcium deposits, is responsible for as many as half of all heart attacks and sudden cardiac deaths – often in people who have had no previous symptoms of heart disease.
A CT (Computerized Tomography) scan is used to determine each person’s specific calcium score. CT is an x-ray procedure that uses a computer to create a clear, two-dimensional view of your heart and arteries.
CT Calcium scoring is designed for men age 40 – 65 and women age 45 – 70 with one or more of the common risk factors for heart disease – a high cholesterol level, high blood pressure, physical inactivity, diabetes, smoking, obesity, stress, or a family history of heart disease, heart attack or stroke.
At CRL Imaging, our team of professionals perform calcium scoring exams to help you avoid the possibility of heart attack and stroke, and to improve your health with greater comfort, fewer complications, less risk and better results. A physician’s referral is not required.
About the Procedure
The Calcium Scoring exam involves the use of multi-detector computerized tomography (CT) to spot tiny deposits of calcium in the heart and coronary arteries.
CT calcium scoring is simple. There are no needles and no dyes. The test itself usually only takes 15 minutes, with results provided within 24 hours to your physician.
No special preparation is necessary in advance of a Cardiac CT examination. You may continue to take your usual medications, but should avoid caffeine and smoking for four hours prior to the exam.
During the Exam
At the time of the exam, you will be asked put on a gown and remove any jewelry.
During the test, you will lie on your back on a table attached to the CT scanner. Electrodes (small metal discs) will be attached to your chest and to an ECG (electrocardiogram) machine that records the electrical activity of your heart. This makes it possible to record CT scans at the best times—when the heart is not actively contracting.
As the table slides through the opening in the scanner, a cylinder at the opening rotates around your body to generate the needed images. The table will move forward slightly every few seconds so that you will be in the proper position for each new cross-sectional image of your heart. You will be asked to hold your breath for periods of 20 to 30 seconds while images are recorded.
This process continues until all regions of the heart have been thoroughly examined.
A board-certified Radiologist from CRL Imaging will interpret the scan and relate a written report of the information to your referring physician or to you directly, depending on your preference, within 24 hours.
Any results needing immediate attention will be called to your physician the day of the exam.
Interpreting Your Score
A “negative” calcium scoring CT scan will show no calcification within the coronary arteries. This suggests that atherosclerotic plaque is minimal at most, and that the chance of coronary artery disease developing over the next two to five years is very low.
A “positive” test means that coronary artery disease is present even if you have no symptoms. The amount of calcification—expressed as a score—may help to predict the likelihood of a heart attack in the coming years.
|Calcium Score||Presence Of Plaque|
|0||No evidence of plaque|
|1-10||Minimal coronary artery plaque|
|11-100||Mild coronary artery plaque|
|101-400||Moderate coronary artery plaque|
|over 400||Extensive coronary artery plaque|
Most insurance plans do not cover the test, but check with your insurance company. CRL Imaging accepts most credit cards, cash and checks at the time of your test.
For More Information
If you would like to find out if you may be at risk for coronary artery disease, talk to your doctor about Coronary Artery Calcium Scoring or contact us for more information.