Heart Scan (Coronary Calcium Scan)
A coronary calcium scan, better known as a heart scan, is a special x-ray test that shows the pictures of the patient’s heart, enabling the doctor to detect and measure any plaques that contain calcium in the arteries. The presence of plaque inside the arteries can grow and restrict the blood flowing to the heart muscles. Measuring the calcified plaque in the heart can help a doctor identify a number of coronary artery diseases without waiting for the symptoms to manifest. With a heart scan, a doctor can further prescribe medication or lifestyle changes to reduce risks of heart problems.
Why is it done?
A heart scan can be ordered by the consulting doctor to get a better understanding of the risk of heart diseases, or in the case there is some uncertainty about the treatment to be followed. The test is useful for the patients who face an uncertain risk for heart disease.A heart scan has also helped motivating a lot of people with moderate heart disease risks to make lifestyle changes for the better.
A heart scan is however, not recommended for men and women under a certain age as calcium buildup that is detectable is not a likely possibility before a certain age. People who already have been classified under the high risk category don’t need the scan either as the test cannot help judge progress, but only to classify the risk category.
The coronary calcium scan uses x-ray technology, so the only risk is exposure to radiation. The amount of the exposure is considered as a safe amount; however, one should discuss the relative risks based on your exposure history from other tests.
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