Cardiac Scoring – What to Expect

Cardiac scoring, which is sometimes referred to as a heart scan or a calcium score, is a non-invasive CT scan of the heart. The test is designed to calculate your risk of developing Coronary Artery Disease (aka CAD) by measuring the amount of calcified plaque in your coronary arteries. The coronary arteries are the blood vessels that supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart. The plaque that can build up in these arteries is a combination of fat, calcium, and other substances that can narrow or even weaken the arteries.

What are the Symptoms of Coronary Artery Disease?

Symptoms include chest pain (angina), tingling in the arm, and sometimes back pain. Some people have no symptoms.

A Heart Scan is important because it can identify CAD risks before there are any symptoms.  A large percentage of people with heart disease first learn of it after a heart attack.

Who Should Get a HEART SCAN?

When you reach 45 as a man, or 55 as a woman, you should have the Heart Scan completed.  If you have other factors, such as whether or not you’re a smoker, are overweight, or have history of coronary heart disease, you may need to get a scan sooner.

Use the Health Scan Questionnaire to determine if you should have a Heart Scan.

What Your Score Is Telling You

The higher your score on a cardiac scoring scan, the higher your risk for a heart attack. The scoring is as follows:

  • “0” – No plaque was detected. Your chances of having a heart attack are less than 5%.
  • “1 to 10” – A small amount of plaque is present, meaning your chance of having heart disease is less than 10%.
  • “11 to 100” – Plaque is present. You have mild heart disease, and a moderate chance of having a heart attack.
  • “101-400” – A moderate to high amount of plaque is present and your chance of having a heart attack is moderate to high. You definitely have heart disease and plaque is possibly blocking an artery. Your doctor is likely to order further tests and begin treatment.
  • Over “400” – A large amount of plaque is present. There is a very high chance — more than 90% — that plaque is blocking, or weakening, at least one of your arteries. Your chance of having a heart attack is high, and your doctor will order more tests and start treatment immediately.

What to Expect

A cardiac scoring scan is a simple test. You’ll simply be asked to lie quietly in the CT machine for about 5-10 minutes while it takes pictures of your heart. The pictures will show whether you have calcification in your heart vessels and if so, how much. The only preparation for the test is to forgo using powder or lotion on your chest, and to remove necklaces or chains from around your neck. Sometimes, you may also be asked to stop smoking or drinking caffeinated beverages for approximately 4 hours before the test.

Cardiac Scoring scans are useful in helping to spur patients with mild to moderate plaque to make lifestyle changes to reduce their risks for a heart attack.

Have your Cardiac Scoring Scan done at Medical Imaging of Fredericksburg, where you’ll find the best technology and the best doctors. We’re proud to say that we maintain better than 95% customer satisfaction! Give us a call today at (540)741-XRAY (9729) for the location nearest you.