Coronary Calcium Score

Coronary calcium scoring (CCS) is a non-invasive scan used to assess the presence of coronary atherosclerosis (build-up of plaque inside the arteries). Coronary calcium scoring uses computed tomography to determine the level of coronary artery calcification in the heart, resulting in a “calcium score.” This score helps your doctor evaluate your risk for future cardiac events.

Improved Risk Profiling

Calcium score alone is more predictive than all other risk factors (increased cholesterol, reduced high-density lipoprotein, history of smoking, or hypertension) in assessing the risk of developing symptomatic coronary disease. The test is non-invasive and the imaging only takes a few minutes to perform.

Predicts Future Cardiac Events

Since calcium is a marker of coronary artery disease (CAD), the amount of calcium detected on a cardiac CT scan is a useful statistic. Additionally, the presence of plaque on your artery walls directly correlates with your risk of having a heart attack. Knowing your coronary calcium score may help you determine your risk for future cardiac events and help you make lifestyle changes and treatment decisions.

Who Should Consider Coronary Calcium Scan?

  • Any patient with borderline indications for prevention therapy (i.e., elevated lipids) who is undecided about taking necessary medication or committing to aggressive treatment.
  • Males over 40 / females over 50 with one or more of the following risk factors:
    • Family history of heart disease
    • Smoking
    • Diabetes
    • High cholesterol
    • High blood pressure
    • Overweight
  • Post-menopausal women under 50

What Happens During my Coronary Calcium Scoring?

  • You will be given a gown to change into and then taken into the CT room.
  • The technologist will position you on the bed for your scan.
  • Coronary calcium scoring does not require iodinated contrast.
  • The technologist will place EKG leads on your chest to monitor your heart rate.
    • During your exam, the technologist will leave the room; however, they will monitor you from the control panel for the entire scan – they’ll always be able to see you.
  • You will be asked to hold your breath to obtain specific images.
  • After your exam is finished, the technologist will help you off the bed and back to your change room.
  • One of our radiologists will review the exam results and send a detailed report to your doctor. We try our best to send the results as soon as possible, usually within one business day.

Orientation

During a coronary calcium scoring (CCS) exam, you will be moved into the scanner feet-first, on your back.

Cost

Alberta Health Services does not cover private CT scans such as coronary calcium scoring outside of the hospital. The cost of a CCS scan at Insight Medical Imaging is $450.

Duration

Coronary calcium scoring exams last less than 15 minutes.

Exam Preparation

Being prepared for your coronary calcium scoring exam helps us take the best possible images for diagnosis. Please visit our exam prep page for more instructions specific to CCS preparation.