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Coronary Calcium Scan

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CORONARY CALCIUM SCAN DEFINITION

Coronary calcium scans, also known as heart scans, is a noninvasive test that produces images of your heart's arteries (the coronary arteries) in order for doctors to look for calcium deposits inside of them. These deposits can narrow these passages and increase your risk for heart attack.

CORONARY CALCIUM SCAN PURPOSE

Heart scans are primarily done in order to determine your risk for heart disease or detect and monitor heart conditions, particularly coronary heart disease (which is the leading cause of heart attacks). It's also useful in providing info about your risk factors for heart attack, particularly if you're at intermediate heart attack risk or suffer from chest pains.

CORONARY CALCIUM SCAN RISKS

Although noninvasive, heart scans are a health risk is it's a walk-in type of setup promoted by certain medical facilities. These facilities may not require doctor referrals, but they might not be covered by your insurance. When undergoing a heart scan, it is best prescribed and done by your doctor who's aware of your heart attack risk factors.
CORONARY CALCIUM SCAN
Image: CORONARY CALCIUM SCAN

CORONARY CALCIUM SCAN PREPARATION REQUIRED

When visiting your doctor for a heart scan, he should review your medical history, do a physical exam, make a risk assessment, and probably do a couple of blood tests on your cholesterol levels to ensure that the heart scan is called for.

CORONARY CALCIUM SCAN PROCEDURE

A heart scan can either use ECBT (electron beam computerized tomography) or CT (computerized tomography). You'll then be asked to take off your clothes and done a hospital gown before entering a doughnut-shaped chamber where you'll get scanned. You don't need to take any precautions after the procedure.

CORONARY CALCIUM SCAN COMPLICATIONS

Depending on the type of heart scan, you may acquire some allergic reactions to certain substances injected into you (e.g., numbing solutions or contrast dye). Because x-ray technology is used, you also risk radiation exposure, so don't take a heart scan if you're pregnant.

CORONARY CALCIUM SCAN SIDE EFFECTS

The immediate side effects for a coronary calcium scan mostly involves allergic reactions to the substances injected into you to make the images produced a lot clearer, such as contrast dye or numbing solutions.

CORONARY CALCIUM SCAN RESULTS

Your doctor will share the results with you after the scan. If you want a copy, ask your doctor to give you one, because these aren't routinely offered. You'll need to undergo some lifestyle changes and aggressive treatment of your heart attack risk factors in the form of medicines if your coronary calcium score is high.
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