6 Tests that Your Doctor May Not Tell You About… #2 Coronary Calcium Heart Scan

By on July 23, 2011 under 6 Tests that your doctor may not tell you about, Heart Disease

The #2 Test that your doctor may not tell you about is the Coronary Calcium CT Score or Heart Scan.

Have you ever wondered whether you already have some degree of heart disease?

Coronary Calcium CT Score is a noninvasive test using a limited heart CT scan to measure the amount of plaque in the coronary arteries. Although this test does not tell you whether the plaque is restricting blood flow to the heart muscle (that would be a stress test), it does tell you whether you are forming coronary plaque, which can help determine how aggressively to treat risk factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

This test is especially helpful if you have borderline elevated cholesterol. The LPP test (The #1 test your doctor may not tell you about – see last week blog ) is also essential in determining the risk of a borderline elevated cholesterol.

There is much controversy about the heart scan, mostly whether it is “cost effective” (i.e. whether it is worth the insurance companies or government to pay for the test). Most insurance companies do not cover the cost of a heart scan; however, many radiology facilities are offering low cost heart scans ($99 in our area). I do think that deciding whether to treat high cholesterol with medications is a decision not to take lightly and one that requires a comprehensive evaluation of heart disease risk so I sometimes recommend the heart scan for my patients. The heart scan does expose you to a small amount of radiation so it should not be done frequently.

If you are interested in the heart scan and live in the Tampa Bay area (we are in downtown St. Petersburg), call our office at (727) 329-8859 or email to schedule a complimentary cardiac risk assessment.