The more coronary calcium you have, the higher the chances of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular problems in the future. A heart scan, also known as a coronary calcium scan uses computerized tomography (CT) technology to capture pictures of the heart, detect and measure calcium-containing plaque in the arteries.
Plaque can grow and restrict blood flow to the heart and other vital organs. Measuring the calcified plaque in your heart scan allows a doctor to identify coronary artery disease (CAD) before your body shows any signs of symptoms. From there, your doctor can use these results to determine if you need medication or lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of heart problems.
Today, we’ll shed light on the most important reasons to schedule routine heart scans and how you can use the information to guide your health moving forward.
(Download our free checklist, 10 Ways to Lower Your Risk of a Second Heart Attack)
Why should I schedule a heart scan?
First and foremost, knowing how much plaque you have in your arteries helps your doctor more accurately determine your risk of heart attack or stroke. If you have a low to moderate risk for heart disease or the risk isn’t clear, a heart scan can help guide medications or changes in lifestyle – steering your health back in a positive direction sooner.
Plaque is made up of fats, cholesterol, calcium and other substances in the blood. It gradually develops over time and, without any signs or symptoms of disease, can burst – triggering a blood clot.
Your doctor may recommend a heart scan to take an early look at the levels of plaque present. However, because it’s a screening exam, you can make an appointment anytime without a doctor’s note or referral.
What happens afterward?
Once you’ve completed the heart scan, your results will be analyzed and prepared by our team of board-certified radiologists. They’ll evaluate your calcium score and CT angiogram along with your blood pressure and lipid analysis.
A hard copy of your calcium score will be mailed to you as well as a full report, outlining your risk assessment and follow-up instructions. Then, our team will be available to discuss your results in-person or over the phone.
Bring this information with you to your next appointment to discuss with your primary care physician or cardiologist. From there, they’ll direct any medications or lifestyle changes that need to be taken. Your physician may also recommend follow-up health scans to pinpoint treatment initiatives or to monitor your progress over time.
Why should I schedule routine heart scans?
Many times, people learn they have heart disease after they’ve suffered a heart attack or stroke. A heart scan is one way to find out if you’re in the early stages of heart disease before it gets worse.
Once you know your risk, you and your primary care physician or cardiologist can determine the best actions to lower it. You might choose to take cholesterol medicine, implement a heart-healthy diet or lower stress and blood pressure through daily exercise.
Good health is priceless – so is prevention.
A heart scan provides your doctor with more information on your risk for heart disease. But, you don’t have to wait for them to make the call. Good health is priceless and prevention is much less costly than the hospital bills and physical damage from a cardiac event.
Scheduling routine heart scans is a great way to track your health over time, especially if you have a family history of heart disease or factors that put you at risk like obesity, diabetes and smoking.
To learn more about heart scans and how Advanced Body Scan of Tulsa can help you unlock vital information about your health, give us a call today at (918) 879-6161.
Already had a heart attack?
After a first heart attack, many people go on to live a long, healthy life. But according to the American Heart Association, around 20 percent of patients will experience another within five years.
In this free checklist, we cover important health topics like nutrition, exercise, cholesterol and blood pressure as well as heart medications. Click below to download yours now.