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Coronary Calcium Scan

How To Prepare

You do not need to do anything before you have this test. But you may be asked to not smoke or not eat or drink anything that has caffeine for a few hours before your test.

Tell your doctor if you might be pregnant or are pregnant. This test is not done on pregnant women.

Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).

How It Is Done

A coronary calcium scan is usually done by a radiology technologist. The pictures are usually interpreted by a radiologist. Other doctors, such as a family medicine doctor, internist, cardiologist, or surgeon, may also review this test.

You will need to remove any jewelry that might be in the way of the X-ray picture. You may need to take off some of your clothes. If so, you will be given a gown to use during the test. For some CT scans, you may be able to wear your clothes. If so, wear loose clothes that do not have zippers or snaps.

Small metal discs called electrodes will be put on your chest. Wires connect these to an EKG camera.gif machine that records the electrical activity of your heart on paper. The EKG records when your heart is in the resting stage, which is the best time for the CT scans to be taken.

If your heart rate is 90 beats per minute or higher, you may be given medicine to slow your heart rate.

During the test, you will lie on a table connected to the CT scanner. The scanner is a large doughnut-shaped machine.

The table slides into the round opening of the machine, and the scanner moves around your body. The table will move a little every few seconds to take new pictures. You may hear clicking or buzzing sounds as the table and scanner move.

You may be asked to hold your breath for 20 to 30 seconds while pictures of your heart are taken. It is very important to hold completely still while the pictures are taken.

During the test, you are usually alone in the scanner room. But the technologist will watch you through a window. You will be able to talk with the technologist through a two-way intercom.

A coronary calcium scan takes about 30 minutes.

How It Feels

You won't have any pain from the X-rays during the coronary calcium scan. But the table you lie on may feel hard and the room may be cool. You may find it hard to lie in one position for a long time.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 13, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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