Frequently Asked Questions About HeartScans

How do you test for heart disease?

The HeartScan tests for early warnings for heart disease using a state-of-the-art 256-slice, 64-slice or 16-slice CT scanner that takes a series of images from inside your heart, lungs, and blood vessels. The images are then examined by a doctor to determine the amount of calcified or hardened plaque inside your coronary arteries.

What does the HeartScan detect?

The HeartScan detects the amount of calcified or hardened plaque inside your coronary arteries. Hardened plaque is one early indicator of heart disease.

Who should have the HeartScan?

You should consult with your physician to see if a HeartScan is right for you. Your physician is in the best position to determine whether a HeartScan might help in your care. If you have risk factors for heart disease, a HeartScan may help you and your physician to determine the best treatment for you.

Risk factors for heart disease include:

  • A family history of heart disease
  • History of a stroke
  • Other vascular disease
  • Smoking
  • Abnormal cholesterol levels
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure

How often should I get a HeartScan?

You should NOT get a HeartScan more often than every 5 years.

A HeartScan is not recommended for people who have had a heart catheterization or who have known heart disease.

How should I prepare for the test?

There are no special preparations required for a HeartScan.

What should I expect to experience?

The HeartScan is a quick and easy test that will take about 30 minutes. There are no injections, and you will be fully clothed. It's similar to taking an X-ray of your body. You’ll lie on a scanner table, and multiple images of your heart will be taken. A doctor will then study these images to determine the amount of calcified or hardened plaque in the coronary arteries.

What happens after the HeartScan?

Your HeartScan results will be reviewed with you, and your percentile ranking and calcium score will be provided in a report that you can take home after the test. We will also send a copy of the results to your primary care physician at your request.

What are the benefits and limitations of the HeartScan?

Heart problems can often go undetected for years. Having a HeartScan is a quick and simple way to identify early warning signs of heart disease. By identifying your risks early, you can make lifestyle changes or undergo treatment that will greatly reduce your risk of suffering a heart attack, stroke, or other forms of cardiovascular disease.

You should know that the HeartScan has limitations. It can't determine whether you are going to have a heart attack. The HeartScan measures the amount of calcified or hardened plaque in the heart’s coronary arteries, which is just one indicator of heart disease. Soft plaque or non-calcified deposits are also predictors of heart disease, but these cannot be detected by a HeartScan or other non-invasive test. It’s important to note that even if the HeartScan determines you don’t have any calcified plaque, it’s still possible to have soft or non-calcified plaque.

Where can I get further information?

Here are some resources that can tell you more about heart disease and the HeartScan screening:

American Heart Association

CardioSmart.org