Heart CT Scan
Many people don’t realize they have heart disease until it’s too late because the first symptom is usually a heart attack. Fortunately, a heart CT scan can provide an early warning.
A heart CT scan is a non-invasive study of coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart. The scan checks for early stages of heart disease by measuring calcified plaque buildup (made of calcium, fat, cholesterol and other substances) along the artery walls.
This buildup narrows the arteries and affects the flow of blood to the heart. If blood flow becomes completely blocked, a heart attack can occur.
The results of a heart CT scan are given as a calcium score. This information can help predict your risk of having a heart attack before symptoms even appear.
Is it Right for Me?
A heart CT scan isn’t for everyone, so talk to your doctor about whether it makes sense for you. It's most useful when considered along with other risk factors for a heart attack, such as family history of heart disease, high blood pressure and unhealthy cholesterol.
Preparing for the Scan
There are no special prep instructions for this test.
What to Expect
The scan only takes about 10 minutes and is done using computed tomography (CT), which uses X-rays and computers to create detailed images of the heart.
During the scan:
- You lie on a platform that slides through a tube that looks similar to a doughnut.
- You will need to stay very still.
- You may be asked to hold your breath for short periods.
- You may have small, sticky discs attached to wires (electrodes) on your chest to record your heartbeat.
Once the test is done and your appointment is finished, you can go back to your normal routine.
Because it’s a screening examination, a heart CT scan is not covered by most insurance companies or Medicare. Payment is due at the time of service.
The exam cost is $99, and you can pay with cash, check or credit card. (We will not bill your insurance.) The price includes both the scan and review of the results.
A cardiologist will interpret your exam results, and a written report will be mailed to your home.