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Reasons, Preparation & Procedure To Conduct Coronary Artery Calcium Scoring

Submitted on March 27, 2012

Coronary arteries supply oxygenated blood to the heart muscle. Under normal circumstances, the coronary arteries will not contain calcium. However, the presence of calcium in the coronary arteries signals the risk of coronary artery disease (CAD). A coronary artery calcium scoring test is very rarely recommended, especially for people with a low risk of CAD. That’s because this test may give false results showing plaque build up in the coronary arteries, when none exists. Other names for this test are calcium scan test and cardiac CT for calcium scoring.

Reasons for Coronary Artery Calcium Scoring

A doctor may prescribe cardiac calcium scoring only in certain circumstances. For instance, the doctor may ask you to get screened to find out whether you are at a risk of CAD. This test searches for calcifications or specks of calcium in the coronary arteries. Such a test will determine the severity of the heart disease and can also predict whether you will exhibit CAD symptoms.


There is nothing in particular that you need to do before the test. However, your doctor may ask you to avoid caffeine and smoking four hours prior to the test. You need to remove any jewelry, metal hair clips, pins, eyeglasses, dentures, hearing aids, and anything else that could interfere with the scan. In case a woman is pregnant she should avoid this test and necessarily inform the doctor or the CT technician about her pregnancy.


The patient is made to lie on an examination table, straps and pillow could be used to ensure that a correct position is maintained during the scan. Electrodes are strapped to the chest and to an ECG machine to monitor the electrical activity of the heart. The patient is asked not to breathe for a period of 10 to 20 seconds while the machine is recording images. In some ways, this test is very similar to a regular x-ray. However, while an x-ray uses a small amount of radiation to record photographs of bones and soft tissue, the CT scan focuses numerous x-ray beams onto the body. The amount of radiation absorbed by the body is measured with the help of rotating x-ray detectors. The examination table moves through the scanner, so that the x-ray follows a spiral path. All this information is processed to generate two-dimensional cross-section images of the body. The procedure is now much faster thanks to technological improvements.