Coronary Calcium Scan Testing

Aurora Denver Cardiology Associates (ADCA) is proud to offer coronary calcium scan testing in conjunction with The Medical Center of Aurora. The coronary calcium scan, a simple, non-invasive and inexpensive diagnostic tool, provides physicians and patients with invaluable insight on the potential for future cardiac complications.

Calcium, along with fat and cholesterol, can form plaque that causes excess buildup in the arteries. Also known as coronary heart disease (CHD), this buildup can lead to sudden heart attack, but can be detected early with a coronary calcium scan.

Identifying Future Cardiac Risk

While coronary calcium scans can be performed on anyone, you should consider the procedure if you:

  • Are a woman over 55 or a man over 45 years of age
  • Are overweight, obese or are physically inactive
  • Have borderline high blood pressure or high cholesterol
  • Have a family history of heart disease
  • Smoke or maintain an unhealthy lifestyle
  • Have diabetes
  • Are taking statin medications or want to stop taking statin medications

A Simple, Painless Procedure

Using X-ray technology to capture images of the heart and surrounding arteries, the coronary calcium scan test identifies calcium deposits that appear as bright white spots on the patient’s scan.

A few small electrodes are attached to the patient’s chest, after which a technician will capture images of the heart through a CT scanner. The procedure does not use needles or contrast dye.

Depending on the amount of calcium that appears on the scan, the patient will receive an Agatston score. A higher Agatston score signals a higher risk of developing CHD or suffering a future cardiac event. While a higher Agatston score is not indicative of a cardiac problem, it does allow physicians to determine whether or not to recommend more extensive testing.

How to Prepare

Although coronary calcium scans are straightforward and minimally invasive, there are several things you can do to make the procedure run smoothly:

  • No caffeine or nicotine 12 hours prior to the test
  • Do not wear jewelry
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothes
  • Take your regular medications the day of the procedure
  • Do not fast prior to the test

What to Expect

This is a standard procedure and you can expect your coronary calcium scan to proceed in the following manner:

  • The technologist will explain your procedure and answer any questions you may have
  • You will be asked to lie flat on your back with your arms positioned above your head
  • Three monitoring wires will be placed on your chest to synchronize the scan with your heart motion
  • You will be asked to hold still and briefly hold your breath.
  • Images will be taken as you are moved through the scanner
  • The painless scan will take approximately 10-15 minutes
  • The technologist will be able to communicate with you throughout the entire procedure

After the Procedure

You can expect to learn the results of the procedure the same day it occurs. Either a cardiologist or a nurse practitioner will call with results and you will be mailed a report with pictures of your heart and an explanation of what your score means. This same report can also be sent to your doctor.

To learn more about coronary calcium scan testing, or to make an appointment with any of our cardiac physicians, contact us to make an appointment today.