58 million Americans have one or more forms of cardiovascular disease, making coronary artery disease (CAD) the number one killer of men and women in the United States. More Americans die of heart disease than all types of cancer combined.
CAD is most commonly produced by atherosclerosis (plaque deposits in the wall of the coronary arteries causing a narrowing of the arteries). Until recently there were no non-invasive studies that could directly evaluate the coronary arteries for the presence of atherosclerotic disease.
Recent advances in multi-detector CT technology now provide detailed three-dimensional images of the beating heart within the timeframe of a single breath-hold. One of the most promising applications for these new tools is the realm of coronary imaging. At Charlotte Radiology, we are currently offering two exams to study the coronary arteries, Calcium Scoring and Coronary CT Angiography (CCTA).
For more information on this and other radiology procedures, please visit www.radiologyinfo.org.» Meet our Team of Body Imaging Radiologists
This CT exam is used as a screening tool in the evaluation of coronary artery disease. The Calcium Scoring exam quantifies the total load of calcified (hardened) plaque in the coronary arteries based upon the volume and density of calcified plaque. It then compares that score to a large reference population matched to the patient's age and sex. This exam can be used as a valuable tool in conjunction with other clinical risk factors such as family history, cholesterol level, lipid profile, etc. to help the clinician determine how best to manage patients with coronary artery disease.See the Calcium Scoring Brochure
We believe this technique should be used for individuals considered to be at high risk for developing heart disease. The risk factors for heart disease include:
- age - men 40 or older, women 45 or older
- high cholesterol
- history of smoking
- high blood pressure
- family history of heart disease
- high stress levels
- sedentary lifestyle
If one or more of these factors apply to you, we encourage you to talk with your doctor about considering this procedure. Patients who have had previous cardiovascular treatment or surgery, including coronary stinting, coronary bypass surgery, pacemaker placement, or valve replacement are not candidates for this screening procedure.
The scan itself only takes ten minutes. It does not involve any injections or medications. You will be asked to complete a brief risk factor questionnaire. You then lie down on the table fully dressed while the technologist places EKG leads on your chest. While the scan is being performed you will hold your breath for a brief period in order to have still pictures. A radiologist from Charlotte Radiology who is sub specialized in body and cardiovascular imaging will then study the scan and send a report to your physician.
The charge for this test is currently $100 at our outpatient facilities and payment is expected on the day of the exam. Please call for hospital pricing. Since Calcium Scoring is considered a screening test for asymptomatic patients, unfortunately most insurance companies do not reimburse for its cost. If you have insurance with CIGNA or MedCost, it may be covered with a doctor's referral and prior authorization.
Once your scan is completed, your images will then be sent to the radiologist for review. Your physician will receive a dictated report discussing the radiologist's findings, including your cardiac score. With this information, your doctor can recommend the appropriate treatment. This may include diet and lifestyle changes, medication and/or further testing.
Click here to learn more about what various cardiac scores may mean to the patient. There are multiple causes of cardiovascular disease. Atherosclerotic coronary artery disease, reflected on the scan as coronary artery calcification is the most common form of cardiovascular disease.
Screening CT exams of the heart are not intended to replace your usual routine doctor's evaluations, but are provided to give you and your doctor additional information on which to determine lifestyle changes and treatment options.
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