What is Coronary Calcium Scoring?
Coronary heart disease (atherosclerosis) is the nation’s leading killer, and is responsible for more deaths than all types of cancer combined. Every year, more than one million Americans will suffer a heart attack. More than 50% of the patients suffering their first heart attack this year will have no prior symptoms before their first coronary event or death.
Coronary calcium scoring (CCS) is a proven, non-invasive method that can directly identify plaque buildup in the coronary (heart) arteries. The coronary calcium scoring screen is a CT scan that only provides a small fraction of the dose of a routine chest CT. This test has been performed on tens of thousands of patients in the United States. More than 100 scientific articles proving the validity of this test have been published since 1998. In 2006, an international panel of leading cardiologists endorsed this technique.
Who should consider a Coronary Calcium Scoring Screening?
Useful in patients with risk for heart attack by other risk assessment methods. Calcium scoring has also been shown to be accurate in men and women in all age groups. Useful in asymptomatic patients with intermediate risk for heart attack (10%-20%-10 year risk of developing cardiovascular disease based on Framingham Risk Score.) Knowing your calcium score can help your provider direct medications to modify cardiovascular risk factors and help patients improve compliance with heart healthy habits.
Does Calcium Scoring predict a patient’s risk of heart attack or death?
Yes. Calcium scoring predicts a patient’s risk of heart attack or death over five years with higher sensitivity than stress testing or any other known risk factors. An individual with a calcium score in the highest quartile for age (greater than 75th% rank) is more than 6 times likely to have a heart attack than a patient with no coronary calcium. The risk of death in an individual with a calcium score greater than 1000 is more than 12 times higher than that of an individual with a calcium score less than 10.
Patient Prep – What do I need to know before my screening?
Refrain from caffeine for 24 hours before your exam. This will help maintain a slow steady heart rate, improving the quality of your examination. Typically, no medications and no IVs are needed for this examination. You will lie on your back in the scanner. X-rays of your heart will be made during a single breath hold. The examination should be completed within 5–10 minutes. Your examination will then be quality controlled for accuracy by a board certified radiologist, and your score calculated by computer analysis. The result will be sent to your physician.
How do I schedule a Coronary Calcium Scoring Screening?
Your physician will need to contact Central Scheduling at (828) 268-9037.
How much will it cost?
The cost of the procedure is $200.00. The technical portion is $125.00 and the professional portion is $75.00 Some insurance carriers will pay for this screening, but we require full payment for this exam at time of service. Upon request Watauga Medical Center will provide a UB billing form for the technical component so you can submit it to your insurance provider for reimbursement.