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Frequently Asked Questions

What happens during a heart CT Scan?

The procedure is performed by a CT technologist with the assistance of a radiologist.

Once you arrive, you will change into a gown. The procedure is performed by a CT technologist who will explain the procedure to you and escort you to the CT room.

You will lie on your back on the CT table and EKG electrodes will be placed on your chest to monitor your heart rate. The CT table will move in very small increments every few seconds and take pictures.

You may be asked to hold your breath for 20 to 30 seconds, and you will need to hold perfectly still. Even though you will be left alone in the room, the technologist will watch you through a window, and you will be able to speak to him or her.

The scan takes approximately 20-30 seconds, but from start to finish it takes approximately 10-15 minutes.

What is the calcium score test?

The coronary artery calcium score test is a diagnostic screening test for the presence of blockages that can cause heart attacks. This test is very important as waiting for symptoms is not a wise approach. 50% of Americans find out they have heart disease by either a heart attack or sudden death as the 1st symptom.

What is coronary calcium?

The arteries that bring blood to the heart can sometimes become blocked leading to a heart attack. Theses blockages are often form by calcium.

Is the test invasive?

No. The calcium score test is done in the open CT scanner. It is one of the most patient friendly tests available and the patient will only be in the CT scanner for a couple of minutes. There is no patient prep or recovery time and no needles or contrast involved.

What if I have a high score?

Most people will have very early stage disease or no blockages, however if you are found to have a high score we will advise you to follow-up with your physician, lipid specialist and/or a cardiologist for further evaluation. While disappointing, it is far better to find a high score than ignore it and wait for a heart attack to be the first sign something is wrong.

What is the calcium score test?

The coronary artery calcium score test is a diagnostic screening test for the presence of blockages that can cause heart attacks. This test is very important as waiting for symptoms is not a wise approach. 50% of Americans find out they have heart disease by either a heart attack or sudden death as the 1st symptom.

Will my insurance pay for the test?

Since the calcium score test is a screening test not all insurance companies are paying for it. We do suggest you check with your insurance provider to see if this test is covered in your plan.

Should I have the test if I am already taking medicine to lower my cholesterol?

Even if you are taking a statin to lower cholesterol it is important to have this test. The test will determine if you have actual blockages in the arteries of your heart. Lowering cholesterol is important, but it is also vital to learn if you have blockages that could cause a heart attack.

Should I stop taking my calcium pills my doctor gave me?

Calcium as prescribed by your doctor is important for bone health and is very different from calcium found in the arteries of the heart. They are unrelated and you should not stop taking your supplement.

How often should I take the test?

If you are low risk, it is important that you do take the test every three (3) years to ensure your calcium levels have not changed.

For more information, speak to your doctor or contact Gunnison Valley Health's Diagnostic Imaging Department at (970) 641-7253.

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