Understanding your heart health with CT Calcium Score

Many things can indicate that you might be at risk of heart disease or heart attack, including whether you have physical or lifestyle risk factors and whether there’s history of it in your family. Confusingly though, some people have none of these factors, and no symptoms, but their bodies are still setting them up for heart disease. The good news is that there is one simple test that can give you the answer straight away, and your GP or specialist can refer you to have that test at Auckland Radiology.



 What does the test involve?

This test is quick, painless and entirely safe. It is most effective for men over 40 and women over 45. You lie down and spend a short amount of time in a CT scanner, at an incredibly low radiation dosage – you pick up more radiation going on a flight. No injections or dyes are needed, and you can go about your day as normal afterwards.

There is full information about before, during and after the CT scan here.

What is the test looking for?

The images from the scan show whether or not your coronary arteries are being narrowed or even blocked by calcified plaque. If your arteries are being narrowed or blocked, that makes it harder for your heart to pump blood correctly, putting you at risk of coronary artery disease, angina or heart attack.

What is the “score”?

The radiologist will analyse your scan images, and apply an internationally tried and tested method to create a numbered “score” of the amount of calcified plaque. There are five levels to the score: zero indication / minimal / mild / moderate / severe.

If your score is zero, you can be reassured that you have no heart risk for at least the next 15 years. Yes, really! If your score is higher, your doctor will advise whether you need to make lifestyle changes and potentially take heart medication.

What are the benefits?

You will receive an accurate, definite answer as to whether or not you are at heart risk, and if so, how urgently you need to act. CT calcium scoring is also the only test that can identify current risk in people who seem fully healthy. CT calcium scoring truly gives the one, reliable answer that no other tests or indicators can.

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