Heart disease continues to be the number one killer of both men and women—a shameful statistic because, when found early, heart disease can be treated and oftentimes reversed.
Heart Calcium Scoring is a screening test that can help reveal heart disease in its early stages, even years before you have a symptom. The test is fast, pain free and safe. There are no needles or dyes. It’s similar in many ways to receiving an x-ray. Yet the results can help save your life. Unlike other CT tests, our Heart Calcium Scoring even includes an assessment of disease in your lungs.
Why is heart disease called the silent killer? Because in its early stages, when it’s the most treatable, heart disease oftentimes produces no symptoms. And that means many people, despite having risk factors for heart disease, wait until they are in serious danger before taking action.
Having a Heart Calcium Scoring test is easy. You can go through the entire process in about an hour. The actual procedure itself is only a few minutes. Heart Calcium Scoring is completely noninvasive and pain-free. There are no needles, no dyes, no injections and no exercise. You remain fully clothed and comfortable. Heart Calcium Scoring uses computed tomography, also known as an ultrafast CT scan, to take a series of pictures of the arteries surrounding the heart.
Specifically, we’re looking for a build up of plaque in the arteries. This plaque is a fatty substance, sometimes referred to as cholesterol, that sticks to the side of the arterial walls, blocking blood flow. This condition is called atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries and is the most common form of heart disease. If left untreated, this condition can eventually lead to a heart attack.
Q. Why should I be screened? I feel fine.
A. One in two people will suffer from some form of heart disease, so the disease is prevalent. In its earliest stages, when it’s most treatable, heart disease rarely produces symptoms. For many people, a heart attack is the first clue of any heart problems. Early detection is key to managing heart disease.
Q. What makes Heart Calcium Scoring different from other tests?
A. Heart Calcium Scoring uses the latest in computer tomography to generate pictures that can reveal calcium buildup. This technology does not require injections or dyes and delivers about the same amount of radiation as a chest x-ray. Also, for no additional cost, Bellin’s Heart Calcium Scoring includes an assessment of disease in your lungs.
Q. Isn’t a stress test enough?
A. A graded exercise stress test, or treadmill test, will only detect the kind of major blockage that occurs in advanced heart disease, so it is not appropriate for preventative testing or for screening patients who do not have symptoms. The role of a Heart Calcium Scoring test is to detect heart disease even in its earliest stages.
Q. How long does a Heart Calcium Scoring test take?
A. The Heart Calcium Scoring test usually takes less than an hour of your time. The procedure itself takes about 7 minutes in most cases.
Q. Are needles involved?
A. No. The procedure is painless, noninvasive and in fact, you don’t even have to change clothes.
Q. How accurate is Heart Calcium Scoring?
A. Studies indicate an accuracy of 95 to 98 percent. Even more significant, the reliability increases with your age.
Q. What do the results mean?
A. Based on the amount of plaque revealed in your arteries, you will be given a calcium score. You will then be classified as having no risk, mild risk, moderate risk or an excessive risk. In most cases, a low or moderate score will alert you to consider ways to change your diet or lifestyle. In some cases, an excessive score might result in further testing or even intervention.