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Radiology specialized procedures

Coronary calcification scoring

Why?
Coronary artery disease is the number one cause of death in American men and women. Once detected though, it can be stopped! The key is early detection.

What is cardiac gated helical CT?
You are connected to an electrocardiograph, a machine which measures the electrical activity of the heart, and a computer synchronizes the beat of your heart with the CT scanner. As a result, the pictures it generates are not blurred by the motion of the heart and blood. This test measures the amount of calcium in your coronary arteries. Using this technology, we can obtain quick and painless pictures without any need of an injection.

What is calcification of your arteries?
Calcification in the coronary arteries is the earliest indicator of arteriosclerosis, a disease of the arteries in which fatty material and calcified plaque are deposited in the vessel wall, resulting in narrowing and eventual impairment of blood flow. The cardiac gated helical CT test produces a calcium score based on age, gender, and other cardiac risk factors. This score indicates the amount of calcium deposits in your coronary arteries. The overall score is a strong indicator of your risk for coronary artery disease.

Heart disease facts
  • 1.5 million Americans have heart attacks each year, 1/3 of which are fatal.
  • Based on the Framington heart study, 5% of all heart attacks occur in people under the age of 40, and 45% occur in people under the age of 65.
  • Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S., affecting both men and women. More Americans die from heart disease than all other diseases combined.
  • San Bernardino County has the highest ischemic heart disease rate for males, females, and overall population in the state of California.
  • Most people who suffer heart attacks have only average or slightly elevated cholesterol. In people with cholesterol levels as low as 180, heart attack is still the leading cause of death.
  • Many people with arteriosclerotic plaque deposits often do not have any symptoms. In about half of the cases, the first sign of heart disease is sudden death or heart attack.

Who should have this test?
Men over 40 and women over 50 years of age, as well as "at-risk" men and women over 35 and 45 years of age respectively should have this test.

This test is especially important in patients with the following risk factors for coronary artery disease:

  • Family history of heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • High stress lifestyle
  • No regular exercise program
What will happen during the test?
Before the test, you will fill out a cardiac questionnaire.

1. Three electrocardiogram leads will be placed on your chest to synchronize the CT scanner with your heart beat.

2. Then you will lie down on the table. A series of pictures will be taken of your heart, during which time you will be asked to hold your breath.

3. The scan is painless, and it emits only a small amount of radiation comparable to other diagnostic radiology procedures.

4. The scan itself only takes about a minute, but you should plan on being here for 45 minutes to an hour, accounting for registration time, patient evaluation, and instructions.

How do I pay for the test?
Payment is due in full at the time of your appointment. Most insurance carriers do not cover this test as yet. If you wish to submit a claim to your insurance carrier, we will provide you with the necessary documentation.

What will my report include?
Loma Linda University Medical Center provides a comprehensive report, which includes the findings from your CT and the normal amounts of calcium found in men and women of differing ages. Also included in the report is the risk level that your score places you at and the current recommendations for treatment.

How will I receive my results?
A formal report will be mailed or faxed to you and your designated physician in two to three days. If you do not have a physician, we can arrange for a referral to a Loma Linda University physician.

Do I need a written physician's order for this test?
No. You can choose to have the study on your own. If your physician has requested this test, please bring the written order with you at the time of your appointment.

How do I make an appointment?
Call our central scheduling unit at (909) 558-5533 from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Monday through Thursday and 7:00 a. m. to 3:00 p.m. on Friday.  You can also visit our central scheduling website at http://lomalindahealth.org/medical-center/for-patients-and-visitors/central-scheduling.page.

Where do I go for the examination?
The examination will take place at the Professional Plaza, 25455 Barton Road, Ste.103B,  Loma Linda, California. See directions page.