heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

Coronary Artery Calcium Score

A Coronary Artery Calcium Score or CT Calcium test can be used to estimate your risk of heart attack or stroke.

A Coronary Artery Calcium (or CT Calcium) Score test uses a special type of X-ray called a CT scan. It measures the amount of calcium inside the walls of your heart’s arteries.  

How is the test done? 

During the test, you lie down flat on a table which will move through a circular scanning machine. The staff performing the scan will tell you to hold your breath at times. The machine monitors your heart rhythm by placing sticky dots and ECG leads on your chest. You won’t need to stay in hospital or take any precautions after the test, and you’ll be able to drive. 

What does the test show? 

A collection of calcium in the walls of your heart’s arteries can mean that there’s an accumulation of plaque. This could increase your risk of a heart attack or stroke. Your doctor will discuss the results with you and what they mean for your health. 

It’s important to remember that a high calcium score does not mean you will have a heart attack or stroke – it just means your risk is higher than someone with a low calcium score.  

Why is the test done? 

Doctors sometimes order a CT Calcium Score test to help estimate your risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the future. This test is not the only way to work this out – usually a heart health check is enough. Once your doctor knows your level of risk, they will talk to you about how to reduce the chances of a heart attack or stroke happening with lifestyle changes and medications.  

Preparing for the test 

Your doctor may tell you to avoid smoking or drinking caffeinated drinks before having the test. Otherwise there’s nothing you need to do to prepare. If you have questions, it is best to check with your doctor or the centre where you are having your test for specific information about what to do. 

 

For more information about the Coronary Artery Calcium Score, speak to your doctor, nurse or health worker, or call the Heart Foundation Helpline on 13 11 12  

 

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