Coronary Calcium Scan – A Patient’s Guide

 

 

WHAT IS CORONARY CALCIUM SCAN ?

 

Coronary calcium scan measure the amount of calcium in the walls of your coronary arteries — the arteries that supply your heart with blood. Cardiologists use these scans to look for calcium in the coronary arteries.

 

Coronary artery disease is a leading cause of heart attacks. Coronary artery disease occurs when plaques build up and narrow your arteries (atherosclerosis). The plaques are made of fat, cholesterol and calcium. It is the calcium in those plaques that these scans can detect. The amount of calcium present can be used to calculate a score (coronary calcium score) that, when combined with other health information, helps determine your future risk of coronary artery disease or heart attack.

 

A high coronary calcium score may indicate that you have a higher risk of having a heart attack before you have any obvious symptoms of heart disease.

 

HOW IS CORONARY CALCIUM SCAN PERFORMED AND WHAT ARE THE RISKS OF PROCEDURE ?

 

Coronary calcium scan does not require any preparation. No injections are given and patients are not required to fast. The scan takes about 5 minutes to perform. The only risk to the patient is radiation exposure.

 

WHO SHOULD CONSIDER CORONARY CALCIUM SCAN ?

 

Men (> 45 years old) or women (> 55 years old) with at least one of the following risk factors (family history of heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking or diabetes) could consider going for a coronary calcium scan.

 

If your coronary calcium score is high, more aggressive treatment of your heart attack risk factors, such as lifestyle change or medications may be needed.