Cardiac Calcium Scoring: FSA Eligibility
What is cardiac calcium scoring?
Cardiac calcium scoring, also known as simply calcium scoring or the more general "heart scan," is a type of diagnostic test that utilizes a specialized X-ray that provides images that can give doctors the ability to determine the presence and overall amount of calcium-containing plaque that has formed in the arteries. Plaque, which consists of fats, cholesterol, calcium and other substances in the blood, in the arteries is one of the clearest signs of heart disease development, as this plaque can eventually grow and restrict the flow of blood to the muscles of the heart that can lead to heart attacks and other complications (Radiological Society of North America).
A heart scan is usually called for in patients who have a known moderate risk of heart disease, which is based on factors including the person's age, sex, blood pressure, cholesterol levels and history of tobacco use. Cardiac calcium scoring uses specialized X-ray technology called multislice computerized tomography (CT), which can produce multiple images of the calcium deposits, which can then provide a measure of how much has accumulated to produce a risk score. For example, a person at moderate risk is defined as a 5 to 7.5 percent chance of a heart attack in the next decade.
How is cardiac calcium scoring done?
Cardiac calcium scoring is a simple procedure that involves the placement of EKG (electrocardiogram) sensors to the chest, which record heart activity during the exam and coordinate the timing of X-ray pictures between heartbeats. The actual heart scan is fairly straightforward with the patient lying on a moveable table on his/her back, which will slide into the CT scanner. During this time period, pictures will be taken and the entire procedure should only take between 10 to 15 minutes and the patient can then resume normal activities. A follow-up appointment with a cardiac specialist is usually the next step to go over the results and develop a treatment plan moving forward (WebMD).