Coronary Calcium Scan
Coronary calcium scans use a special X-ray test called
computed tomography (CT) to check for the buildup of
plaque on the walls of the arteries of the heart
(coronary arteries). This test is used to check for
heart disease in an early stage and to determine how
severe it is. Coronary calcium scans are also called cardiac calcium scoring.
The coronary arteries supply blood to the heart.
Normally, the coronary arteries do not contain calcium. Calcium in the coronary
arteries is a sign of
coronary artery disease (CAD).
A CT scan
takes pictures of the heart in thin sections. The pictures are recorded in a
computer and can be saved for more study or printed out as photographs.
For help deciding about getting this test, see:
- Heart Disease Risk: Should I Have a Coronary Calcium Scan?
Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.
Decision Points focus on key medical care decisions that are important to many health problems.Heart Disease Risk: Should I Have a Coronary Calcium Scan?
Interactive tools are designed to help people determine health risks, ideal weight, target heart rate, and more.Interactive Tool: Are You at Risk for a Heart Attack?
Why It Is Done
may want you to have a coronary calcium scan if you have several risk factors
for heart disease. Or your doctor may want you to have this test if he or she thinks that results could change your treatment for heart disease.
This test might be most helpful for people who have no symptoms
but who are at medium risk for heart disease.
Medium risk means that you have a 10% to 20% chance of having a heart attack in
the next 10 years, based on your risk factors. This means that 10 to 20 out of
100 people with this level of risk will have a heart attack in the next 10
To find out your risk, see the
Interactive Tool: Are You at Risk for a Heart Attack?
And talk with your doctor about your risk for heart disease.
A coronary calcium scan is not advised for routine screening for
coronary artery disease.1 This test may not tell your doctor any more about your risk for heart disease than your risk factors do.
This screening test is not for you if:
- You don't have any risk factors for heart
- You are at high risk for heart disease. (You should
already be under a doctor’s care.)