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Cardiac CT for Coronary Calcium Score

Coronary calcification occurs when calcium deposits in your blood vessels. Research shows that the amount of calcification is directly related to the amount of plaque in your arteries. This plaque increases your likelihood of developing heart disease.

CT scans can detect the amount of calcium build-up in the coronary arteries. The test, otherwise known as a cardiac score, is used to help diagnose heart disease. Because heart disease is a leading cause of death, it is important to undergo screenings. CT scans are one of the most accurate ways to detect calcium build-up in your coronary arteries.

Your doctor may recommend a cardiac score if you:

  • Smoke
  • Have diabetes
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have high cholesterol
  • Have coronary artery disease
  • Are overweight
  • Live a sedentary lifestyle
  • Experience a high level of stress
  • Experience atypical chest pain

A CT scan requires that you lie flat your back. A rotating device spins around your body creating a beam of x-rays. A detector takes snapshots of the beam after it passes through your body and a powerful computer program then processes the images and displays them in different ways for examination. The technician will communicate with you throughout the procedure, but will need to leave the room briefly to run the computer. A radiologist then reviews the images to look at the area in question. The scan will take about 5-10 minutes and the entire experience should last no more than 30 minutes.

Depending on your individual scan, you may receive a contrast injection. Contrast material is a dye that makes your organs and blood vessels more visible when you are scanned. If contrast is used, you will be asked not to eat or drink for four hours prior to the procedure. After the scan you should drink plenty of liquids to help flush the contrast out of your system.

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