A calcium scoring scan is one of the most simple, yet advanced methods to detect heart disease at its earliest stages. It’s a pain-free test and it’s available at Auburn Diagnostic Imaging (ADI), a service of EAMC.
What is a calcium scoring scan and why do I need it?
A calcium scan is a noninvasive computerized tomography (CT) scan that measures calcium build-up in your artery walls. The CT scans your heart and the measurement of calcification produces a score that shows the level of calcium in your heart and the risk of having a sudden cardiac event, such as a heart attack.
The only normal calcium score is zero. “Healthy individuals should have no calcium in their heart,” Johnathan Hadley, M.D., a board-certified radiologist at EAMC explains. “If you have any calcium in your heart; you have coronary disease. Unlike guessing what your risk of heart disease is based on family history or symptoms, by looking at your heart for the presence of calcium, we can tell you more definitively if you are at risk for heart attack. Based on your calcium score, we can determine whether you are low, intermediate or high risk for a future cardiac event.”
“Healthy individuals should have no calcium in their heart. If you have any calcium in your heart; you have coronary disease. Based on your calcium score, we can determine whether you are low, intermediate or high risk for a future cardiac event.”
If you possess some of the risk factors associated with heart disease, such as smoking, being overweight, having high cholesterol, having high blood pressure or being diabetic; a calcium scan can do more than identify your risk, it can help prevent a future heart attack. When you receive your calcium score, your physician will consider your score, along with your risk factors, in order to determine the best plan for prevention.
Who should get tested?
Doctors recommend that if you are otherwise healthy, a calcium scan should be performed at age 40 for men and 45 for women. If your score is zero, generally, you do not need to be tested again for five years. “Even for people who have good health, this is a safe, noninvasive test that is much like a screening mammogram. It can provide more information about your heart health,” Dr. Hadley states. “A calcium scan is valuable because it is a very good reflection of actual risk for the individual. Your calcium score can provide your doctor with a more complete picture of your actual risk.”
Those with chest pain, known heart disease, previous angioplasty/stent or heart surgery are not good candidates and do not qualify for this test.
Candidates for this test are anyone with the following risk factors:
- Family history of heart disease
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
Find out how to schedule a calcium scoring scan:
Auburn Diagnostic Imaging (ADI), a service of EAMC, is equipped with the most advanced digital technology and staffed with board-certified radiologists to perform calcium scans. This test is not covered by insurance in most states, including Alabama and Georgia. However, during the month of February, ADI is offering calcium scans at 50 percent off for any scans scheduled between Feb. 1-28. ADI also offers same-day or next-day appointments when possible.
Before Your Appointment
Please register by calling 334-826-2500, Monday-Friday, from 7 – 4:30 p.m.
While a physician’s referral is not required for this exam, please provide the name of your primary care physician when you schedule your exam. After your scan, your physician will be able to review the results of the exam with you. If you do not have a primary care physician, please visit https://www.eamc.org/find-a-doctor.
Day of the Test
Your test will take place at ADI, located at 1527 Professional Pkwy, Auburn, AL 36830 (view on Google Maps). Hours of operation for imaging services are Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Please arrive at ADI 15 minutes before your scheduled exam time.
The cost of this procedure is $50. Payment will be due at the time services are provided.
What to Expect During the Test
- You will change into a hospital gown.
- The technologist will instruct you to lie on the examination table.
- Sticky patches called electrodes will be attached to your chest and to an electrocardiograph (ECG) machine that records the electrical activity of the heart.
- The high-speed CT scan captures multiple images, synchronized with your heart beat. During the scan, you will feel the table move inside a donut-shaped scanner.
- You will be asked to hold your breath for a period of 10-15 seconds while images are recorded. Breathing instructions are important to follow.
- The entire procedure including the actual CT scanning is usually completed within 30 minutes.
- Before you leave, you will be given a printed report and a staff member will discuss your results and next steps with you.