Calcium scoring is an exam that uses a special x-ray called a computed tomography (CT) scan to find buildup of calcium, known as plaque, on the walls of the arteries of the heart. This test is used to check for heart disease in an early stage and to determine its severity. Calcium scoring is also known as coronary artery calcium scoring.
There are no special preparations needed for this exam, but avoiding caffeine for four hours prior is suggested.
The test is performed on a CT machine. Electrodes are attached to your chest, which in turn are connected to a monitor, monitoring your heart rate during the exam. You then lie on your back on a table that slides through the scanner
as it rotates around your body. You are asked to hold your breath for approximately 20 seconds as a series of pictures are taken of your heart. The entire test typically takes less than 30
A calcium scoring exam is a screening exam and does not require a healthcare practitioner’s order. To schedule an exam, call Lakes Regional Healthcare’s Radiology department at 712-336-8658.
Most insurance plans do not cover the test cost. You are responsible for the entire cost of the test payable upon registration.
Would Calcium Scoring Help Me?
Anyone interested in preventative health care who has not had a past cardiac incident or is currently suffering from heart disease may benefit from calcium scoring. Also, anyone with multiple risk factors may benefit from calcium scoring, such as those with:
• Family history of heart disease
• High blood pressure
• High cholesterol
• Stressful lifestyle
• Men over 45
• Postmenopausal women
• People with a sedentary lifestyle
In most cases, you will receive the results of the test within seven to 10 working days. You should share the results with your physician to determine if further follow-up is needed. Plaque that is not hard (soft plaque) cannot be found with cardiac calcium scoring. Soft plaque is the earliest form of calcium buildup in the arteries of the heart. If you have soft plaque in your arteries, the test may look normal, but this is a false-negative result. Soft plaque can also cause a heart attack.