Lee's Summit Medical Center
October 15, 2013

Heart scans, also known as coronary calcium scans, provide pictures of your heart's arteries (coronary arteries). Doctors use heart scans to look for calcium deposits in the coronary arteries that can narrow your arteries and increase your heart attack risk. The result of this test is often called a coronary calcium score.

“Heart scans can show that you may have a higher risk of having a heart attack or other problems before you have any obvious symptoms of heart disease,” says Lee’s Summit Medical Center cardiologist Rick Brown, MD. “Heart scans aren't for everyone, though,”     Dr. Brown cautions.

The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology don't recommend routine use of heart scans on people who don't have symptoms of heart disease and who don't smoke or have cardiac risk factors, such as elevated cholesterol or high blood pressure.

However, a heart scan for a coronary calcium score is a convenient and non-invasive way of evaluating your risk for a heart attack. This scan shows the location and extent of calcified plaque and soft plaque in the walls of coronary arteries. The coronary calcium scan takes 5-10 minutes and is non-invasive so there’s no pain and no injections. The results of this scan help your physician detect coronary artery disease, which is a leading cause of heart attack in men and women.

Lee’s Summit Medical Center offers the newest and most highly-advanced 128-slice CT scanner for coronary calcium scans which also has the lowest radiation exposure of any CT scanner in the region.

This test is not covered by most health insurance or health plans. In some instances Medicare does cover the scan. The fee for the test is $50 payable by check, credit card or cash at the time of service.

Who may need a Coronary Calcium Scan?

Men, age 35-70, and women, age 40-70 should ask their family physician or make an appointment for a coronary calcium scan if they have any of these risk factors:

  • Family history of heart disease, including heart attack
  • History of smoking or current smoker
  • Diagnosed with Diabetes
  • Have high cholesterol
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Are over weight

 Who should not have the Coronary Calcium Scan?

  • Pregnant women
  • Those who currently have heart disease (have had a heart attack, angioplasty/stent placed or have had bypass surgery
  • Individuals with a resting heart rate above 90-95 beats per minute –known as resting tachycardia
  • Those who have metallic objects in the heart such as mechanical heart valves, pacemaker wires, stents or other metallic devices.  

Talk with your doctor to find out if coronary calcium scoring is right for you. For more information, call (816) 282-5060.