Cardiac scoring is a non-invasive way to determine if your coronary arteries are blocked or narrowed by plaque buildup. The scan, also known as a coronary calcium scan, or Heart Scan, can detect and measure calcium-containing plaque in the arteries. The information gleaned from these scans can help your doctor understand your level of risk for a heart attack. Major risk factors for heart disease include high cholesterol, family history of heart attacks, diabetes, high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, being overweight, and/or physical inactivity. If you have risk factors for heart disease, ask your doctor if a heart scan might be right for you. A Heart Scan may be able to identify coronary artery disease before you show signs or symptoms. The results of the test may also give your doctor insight into lifestyle changes you need to make, and/or medications you may need to take.
How do I prepare for the cardiac scoring exam?
You don’t need to make many special preparations before a Heart Scan. However, you should avoid caffeine and smoking for at least four hours before your appointment. Wear comfortable clothing, and leave any metal objects or jewelry at home.
What should I expect during the procedure?
Before the scan, you will be connected by sensors to an electrocardiogram (EKG). This will record your heart’s activity during the exam. The scan itself will be done by a computed tomography (CT) machine. Your head will remain outside the scanner at all times in a cool and comfortable room. A technician will operate your scan from a nearby room, and you will be able to communicate with them the whole time. You will need to remain still during the exam, but it will only take 10-15 minutes.
What should I expect after the procedure?
You will be able to talk with your doctor and ask any questions you have once your exam is complete. You should not need to do anything special after the exam and will be able to resume normal activities, including eating and drinking, right away.
The results should help you and your doctor come up with the ideal care plan for your unique situation.