Coronary calcium score tests calculate the amount of calcified plaque in the arteries. Such calcifications are an early indication of heart disease.
Your health care provider may order this diagnostic test to see if you are at increased risk of developing heart problems. It is recommended for women and men between the ages of 45 and 75. Approximately 25-35% of those tested require further investigation, treatment or surgery.
The test is performed using a CT scanner device, which produces detailed images of the heart. Note that the radiation dose is reduced for this type of test, and no contrast is used. A radiologist studies the images and sends a full report to the attending physician.
Coronary calcium score tests are non-invasive, quick, and painless. For the procedure, we will ask you to do the following:
Remove all clothing above the waist, jewelry around the neck and chest and any metal objects and put on a hospital gown.
Lie down on the table before the exam while the technologist applies three "sticky patches" to you. These electrodes are connected to an electrocardiogram to record the electrical activity of the heart during the test. The technologist may need to shave three areas of your chest to properly attach the electrodes.
Lie comfortably on the table and remain still. The table will slide into the CT scanner.
Hold your breath for a few seconds while we perform the test. Please note that we capture the images very quickly (30 seconds).
If necessary, speakers built into the CT scanner allow you to communicate with the technologist during the test. In addition, a glass window allows the technologist to see you at all times. During the test, the device emits noises while capturing the images—this causes no discomfort.
Keep in mind that the total duration of your visit can vary from 15 to 30 minutes, although the test itself only lasts about three (3) minutes.
Preparing for the Examination (for adults)
We recommend avoiding coffee and physical activity for four hours before the test to keep your heart rate down.
If confined spaces cause you a lot of anxiety or nervousness, you may be able to take a sedative, which you should acquire before the test. If you are taking the test, be sure to bring someone with you, as you will not be able to drive that day. Otherwise, there are no restrictions after the test—you can resume your normal activities.
A medical prescription is required to perform this examination.
Please note that CT-Scan examinations are not covered by the Régie de l’Assurance Maladie du Québec (RAMQ). However, most group insurance plans cover the costs.
If your healthcare professional has prescribed this examination or if you have any questions, contact us at 1 833 590-2715.