Cardiac CT for Calcium Scoring is a quick and painless screening that can detect calcium in the arteries which supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart. Calcium in these arteries indicates the presence of plaque. Even small amounts of plaque—amounts not yet causing symptoms—put you at risk for heart problems in the future.
Plaque is the gradual build-up of fat, calcium and other substances which narrow arteries and can close off blood flow to the heart, resulting in chest pain (angina) or a heart attack. Because calcified plaque is a risk factor for coronary artery disease (CAD), determining your Calcium Score can provide valuable information about your heart health.
Cardiac CT for Calcium Scoring is most often suggested for high-risk men 45 years or older and women 55 years or older or who are postmenopausal.
Major risk factors for CAD include:
- Family history of heart disease
- High blood cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Cigarette smoking
- Overweight or obese
- Inactive or sedentary lifestyle
How is the exam performed?
The exam is painless and requires no advance preparation. A CT technician positions the patient on the scanning table and connects a heart monitor. During the exam, you will be asked to hold your breath for about 10 seconds while the images are recorded. The scanning table moves in and out of the CT scanner as the exam is performed, and in less than 10 minutes, the exam is complete.
Who interprets the results?
A physician specializing in radiology analyzes the images and sends a report to your referring physician.
A cardiac CT scan that shows little or no calcification within the coronary arteries (a so-called "negative test"), suggests that you are unlikely to develop coronary artery disease over the next two to five years.
A positive cardiac CT scan means that calcium deposits are present in the arteries. The amount of calcification—expressed as a score—can predict the likelihood of developing heart disease in coming years. It also provides important information which can help guide lifestyle changes and improve your health.
What your score means:
- 0: No evidence of plaque
- 1–10: Minimal evidence of plaque
- 11–100: Mild evidence of plaque
- 101– 400: Moderate evidence of plaque
- Over 400: Extensive evidence of plaque
Will my insurance cover the cost?
Calcium Scoring is covered by some insurance carriers. However, all health insurance plans are different. You should verify coverage with your carrier. Patients may also choose to pay for the exam themselves.
Your physician can schedule a Cardiac CT for Calcium Scoring exam for you. An initial consultation with a physician is recommended to determine the appropriateness of this screening.