Cardiac Scoring is a non-invasive, painless screening of the heart for calcium deposits in the coronary arteries, which are the blood vessels that bring oxygen and nutrients to the heart. Cardiac Scoring is performed in less than 10 minutes on a CT scanner in the Radiology Department at Prairie Lakes Hospital. It is sensitive in detecting the presence of hard plaque within the coronary arteries. The information provided by the CT images is used to establish your cardiac score and help determine if you are at risk for heart disease.
Who Should Have Cardiac Scoring?
Cardiac scoring is recommended for men and women ages 40-75.
Risk factors include:Family history of heart disease
History of smoking
High blood pressure
High stress levels
People who have had cardiovascular arrhythmias, treatment or surgery, including coronary stenting, coronary bypass surgery, pacemaker placement or valve replacements are not candidates for this screening procedure.
Why is Having a Cardiac Scoring Screening Important?
Coronary artery disease is the most common type of heart disease, affecting some 7,000,000 Americans. It results from the gradual buildup of plaques in blood vessels that feed the heart. Over time, these plaques can narrow the coronary arteries, and prevent good blood flow to the heart. A sudden, complete blockage can lead to a heart attack. In fact, each year, some 500,000 Americans die of heart attacks caused by coronary artery disease, many without prior symptoms or warning. Cardiac scoring can detect coronary calcium in its early stages. Early detection allows for positive lifestyle changes that will help prevent or minimize further progression of coronary artery disease or cardiac events.
Is Cardiac Scoring Safe?
Yes. The radiation exposure during cardiac scoring is very minimal, and compares to the amount of radiation used in a chest X-ray. Our CT technology can capture images of the heart during a single breath-hold, which means less stress and discomfort and a faster examination time... so fast that 16 image slices of the heart are taken in one second. The technique takes 70-90 images of the coronary arteries without any injections, needles or medications.
How Much Does it Cost?
A cardiac scoring examination at Prairie Lakes Healthcare System is done as part of Target Heart, which also includes a Blood Lipid and Glucose test. Target Heart costs $45. Learn more. Payment is required at the time of the screening examination. No doctor referral is needed.
How Does Cardiac Scoring Work?
Cardiac scoring is accomplished through a CT scanner. CT stands for computed tomography, a process by which a digital picture is made by a computer after low-dose X-rays record a slice or cross-section of the body. The word "slice" is often used to explain the images because they are similar to a single slice of bread taken from a whole loaf. During the scoring procedure, a patient lies on the table of the CT scanner. This tabletop moves the patient through the center of the scanner's donut-shaped gantry. The gantry houses an X-ray tube and detectors. The tube rotates around the patient as X-rays pass through the body to the detectors, where thousands of measurements are recorded. Next, a computer processes this information and displays the images on a computer screen.
What Happens to the Results?
Once the scan is complete, a radiologist at Prairie Lakes Healthcare System reviews the findings. Your doctor will receive a report with the radiologist's findings, including your cardiac score. You will also receive a copy of the report, along with information that explains the results. Following up on the scan results is up to you and your doctor. No one from Prairie Lakes will contact you regarding your results.
What Does a Cardiac Score Mean?
A cardiac score can range from zero to several thousand, and is based on the amount of calcification detected in the coronary arteries. The more calcium that is seen in the coronary arteries, the higher the score.
This score is an indicator of the extent of hard plaque. A very low score correlates with a low risk for coronary artery disease, whereas a high score indicates that the level of hard plaque is extensive, and the risk of a future cardiac event is high.
Cardiac scoring is available as a screening test to assist people in monitoring their health status or to assess potential health risks. Cardiac scoring results are intended to provide patients with information about their heart health that may require additional testing directed by a physician.
To schedule a Target Heart exam, please call Prairie Lakes Hospital at 605-882-7690.