You could prevent a heart attack before it happens

It’s a test that could potentially save your life, and one that we encourage men and women to get as part of their heart health. We’re talking about coronary calcium scoring.

Coronary calcium scoring is a test that measures the level of calcium in the arteries of your heart. This simple, non-invasive and painless procedure can spot coronary artery disease and may prevent you from having a heart attack.

At NMC Health, we use a 160-slice CT scanner to measure how much calcium could be in your arteries. This shows your risk for heart attack or sudden cardiac death.

If you have a medical emergency, call 911 or visit the NMC Health Medical Center Emergency Department.

What to expect

Your coronary calcium scoring or heart CT scan will be done at the NMC Health Medical Center’s imaging department. When you arrive, check in with registration. You will then be directed to the imaging department to wait for your appointment.

When you’re called back, you will be asked to lie flat on a table that will slide into a CT scanner. Electrodes will be put on your chest and connected to a machine that will measure your hearts electrical activity. Sometimes, you may given medicine to slow down your heart rate.

Once you’re inside the CT scanner, the machine will take an x-ray of your heart. It’s important to remember to lie still during the test to avoid any blurred images. The x-ray technician may ask you to hold your breath for short periods of time to get a better look at your heart.

Your scan should only take about 10 minutes. The results will be available for your doctor in a couple of days. You’ll find out those results during your follow up appointment with your primary care provider.

MDsave

If you’re paying out of pocket, get a discount voucher through NMC Health’s partnership with MDsave.

Visit the MDsave website, find the coronary calcium scoring procedure and purchase it through the secure payment center. Print your voucher and bring it with you to your appointment.

FAQs

Calcium scoring can be a lifesaver, and should be considered by anyone at risk for coronary artery disease, including:

  • Males age 45+
  • Females age 55+
  • Younger people with two or more risk factors for heart disease

Nearly half (47%) of all Americans have at least one of the top three key risk factors for heart disease. These include high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking.

Other risk factors include:

  • Age: Aging increases your risk of damaged and narrowed arteries and weakened or thickened heart muscle.
  • Gender: Men are generally at a greater risk of heart disease. However, women’s risk increases after menopause.
  • Family History: A family history of heart disease increases your risk of coronary artery disease, especially if a biological parent developed it at an early age (before age 55 for men and 65 for women).
  • Poor Diet: A diet that is high in fat, salt, sugar and cholesterol.
  • Diabetes: Diabetes increases your risk of heart disease. Both conditions share similar risk factors, such as obesity and high blood pressure.
  • Obesity: Excess weight typically worsens risk factors and puts more stress on your heart.
  • Physical Inactivity: Lack of exercise is also associated with many forms of heart disease, as well as some of its other risk factors.
  • Stress: Unrelieved stress may damage your arteries and worsen other risk factors for heart disease.

Coronary calcium scoring procedures are not usually covered by insurance. To help with the cost, NMC Health offers coronary calcium scoring tests for only $94 through our partnership with MDsave.

You will need a referral from your doctor to have the test done. Talk to your primary care provider to find out if calcium scoring is right for you.

To schedule your test, purchase a voucher through the MDsave program, then call our Imaging Department at (316) 804-6170.

Yes. Your doctor will give you a referral before you schedule your cardiac CT test. Typically, your family doctor or cardiologist will ask you about your medical history and assess your risk for heart attack. You might undergo blood tests and blood pressure measurement before they give you the referral. Talk with your doctor and ask if he or she thinks a coronary calcium scoring test can benefit you.

In most cases, insurance will not pay for coronary calcium scoring. To make the procedure affordable for patients, NMC Health has partnered with MDsave to provide discounts for patients paying out of pocket. Be sure to keep an eye on NMC Health’s social media page and website for promotions during February for National Heart Health Month.

Please make sure you bring your MDsave voucher when you check in at our admissions desk for your test. Do not exercise within 24 hours of your test. You may eat and drink as normal. Avoid the use of tobacco products and anything with caffeine (including chocolate) within six hours of your coronary calcium scoring.