Calcium CT Scoring & Smoking

    We’ve been posting a bit about CT lung screenings, but smokers and other at-risks persons may also want to consider Calcium CT scoring.

    As we enter February “Heart Month”, it’s perhaps wise to consider the effects of smoking on heart health. So, how do you and your physician get a clearer picture of your heart health if you’re a smoker? A quick and useful Coronary CT (computed tomography) for cardiac scoring exam is available at RMI.

    The exam is a noninvasive screening for the calcified plaque caused by smoking that may be present in your coronary arteries.

    Like the CT Lung Screening exam, a Calcium CT Scoring exam is fast (30 seconds or less for the scanning), painless, and requires little in the way of preparation. The CT machine takes a series of x-ray images which are then processed by the computer for a detailed 2D cross-section image.

    An RMI radiologist will then analyze the images for indicators of calcium deposits and send a report to your doctor who will discuss the results with you. If plaque is present, the exam identifies the location and extent of the disease. The radiologist assigns a score on the extent (if any) of coronary artery disease.

    That “calcium score” is based on the amount of calcification (plaque) in the arteries and may help predict the likelihood of a heart attack in the future. The score ranges from 0 (no evidence of coronary artery disease) to over 400, which shows extensive amounts of disease. Your physician can then discuss options for follow-up and treatment.

    In addition to smokers, there are other at-risk persons who may wish to consider Calcium CT Scoring (in consultation with their physician). These include people who have:

    • Obesity or are overweight
    • Diabetes
    • A family medical history of heart disease or heart attacks
    • High blood pressure
    • High cholesterol
    • Sedentary lifestyle

    If you are a smoker, or have one of the above risk factors, talk to your physician about a Calcium CT Scoring exam. The sooner your physician knows your risk level, the sooner you can address any problems.

    During Heart Month (February), we offer a cash-price discount for the exam of $79, savings of $20 over regular cash pricing. So talk to your doctor and see if the screening is right for you.