CT Calcium Score

Coronary Calcium Score, Cardiac Calcium Test

What is a CT Calcium Score?

CT Calcium Score is a specialised CT technique that uses very high speed and high resolution images in order to detect calcium on the coronary arteries that supply the heart. No intravenous dye or other preparation is required and the test generally takes less than 15 minutes. The presence of calcium reflects “Coronary Artery Disease” (CAD), and CT can detect it before symptoms (such as a heart attack) occur. The amount of calcium is given as a score, which is compared to a reference group of your age and gender to determine your relative risk of CAD. Early detection allows time to modify risk factors. CT is considered to be very safe and painless.

If you need a CT scan to determine your Calcium Score, here’s everything you need to know.

Before your scan

When you make an appointment, our booking team will let you know exactly what to expect for your particular scan, and if there’s anything you need to do beforehand.  Unless you’ve been asked not to, you should take all your usual medications and continue eating and drinking normally with the exception of caffeine. Please do not have caffeine (including drinking tea, coffee, cola or eating chocolate) within two hours of the scan as this can elevate your heart rate. Please avoid active exercise before your scan also (walking is fine).

Please let us know if you suffer from allergies or if you have diabetes, kidney disease or asthma.

CT scans use x-rays, so if you’re pregnant, or suspect you might be, let us know. This means we’ll most likely be unable to perform the CT. Note that this test is generally not appropriate for women under 45 years of age. 

Please also remember to bring your completed doctors referral form with you, if this has not already been sent to us. This will ensure the branch reception has all the necessary information required so our expert team can provide you with the best care possible.

On the day of your appointment

When you arrive, please check in with reception. We’ll make sure all your details are correct. You will need to fill out one or two forms.

Before your scan, you may need to remove most of your clothing and all of your jewellery and then change into a gown – this makes things easier, and will be more comfortable. Heart monitor wires will be placed on your chest. On rare occasions the heart rate may be too fast and you may be offered a pill called Metoprolol to reduce your pulse rate. If you are one of the few patients that needs to take Metoprolol to reduce your heart rate, you will need to wait 30-60 minutes for it to take effect. For your scan, the radiographer will guide you onto a comfortable CT bed, which will move to get you in the right position for your scan.  Once you’re all set, the radiographer will move into another room – you can talk to them at any time over the intercom. The bed slides in and out of the CT scan equipment, which is like a big doughnut. You’ll have to stay very still during your scan, however the actual CT scan time is very short. You will need to hold your breath for several seconds.

After your scan

Most people will be able to get on with their day right away. Your report will usually be available from your referring doctor within two working days.

Who can't have a CT scan?

CT is very safe, but isn’t appropriate for people who are pregnant.