Coronary Calcium Scoring

Coronary calcium scoring is a CT scan that captures cross-sectional images of the heart at sub-second rates to check for the presence of coronary calcification in the coronary arteries. This type of CT heart scan measures the amount of calcium deposits in a patient’s coronary arteries. Calcium deposits indicate plaque buildup, and can thus give a good indicator of the patient’s risk for artherosclerosis. After the imaging, a computer calculates the patient’s total plaque burden and compares it to standards for your age and gender.

Coronary calcium scoring takes only about 30 minutes. The x-ray technologist will need to place electrocardiogram (ECG) leads on your chest. ECG leads monitor the electrical impulses in your heart and allow doctors to identify abnormalities in heart rhythm. During the CT heart scan, the ECG leads allow the CT scanner to obtain precise measurements of the heartbeat. These measurements allow the CT scanner to create dozens of CT images during the fractions of a second between heartbeats when the heart is at rest.

Facilities that offer coronary calcium scoring recommend it for individuals who display some combination of the following risk factors:

  • Men over 45
  • Women over 55 and/or women who have gone through menopause
  • High cholesterol
  • Family history of heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Obesity
  • Lack of physical activity

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