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Cardiac CT for Calcium Scoring

What is Cardiac CT for Calcium Scoring?

Cardiac CT for Calcium ScoringCardiac calcium scoring is a quick, painless exam done without any x-ray dye (or contrast) injections that measures the calcium buildup within the coronary arteries of the heart using advanced computerized tomography technology. The “score” can be used as a marker for coronary artery disease. The higher the score, the higher the risk that stenosis (blockage) exists. This exam is a screening tool to give your doctor additional information to determine the best course of action to manage early detection of coronary artery disease. Options may include clinical interventions, medications or lifestyle changes. This test is not intended to take the place of your usual doctor visits.

Who Should Have a Calcium Scoring Screening?

The goal of calcium scoring is to determine if coronary artery disease is present in those patients who may not have symptoms but may be at risk for the disease. Most often Calcium Scoring is suggested for patients 45 or older.

Risk factors include:

  • High cholesterol or triglycerides.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Diabetes or a family history of diabetes.
  • Cigarette smoking.
  • Family history of heart disease.
  • Being overweight or having an inactive lifestyle.

What is the Difference Between a CCTA and Cardiac Calcium Scoring?

Calcium scoring is a screening test used to detect calcification in the coronary arteries and determine future risk of coronary artery disease before symptoms develop. More calcium suggests a greater likelihood of significant narrowing and a higher risk for future events.

CCTA is indicated for patients with symptoms suggestive of heart disease or abnormal test results that may be caused by coronary disease that has not previously been diagnosed. It is also useful for some patients with known coronary disease who may be having symptoms or have had abnormal stress test results. CCTA is especially useful for patients not previously diagnosed who may be having symptoms suggestive of coronary artery disease or who demonstrate abnormalities on stress testing. CCTA is a noninvasive exam done in CT that requires the injection of contrast dye into the body through a vein in the arm to create a 3-D image of the coronary arteries of the heart.

A CCTA requires additional screening, premedication, insertion of an IV and observation after the exam. Patients can plan on an appointment lasting up to two hours.

Cardiac calcium scoring, however, requires very little in exam prep time, no IV and rarely any postobservation time. Patients can plan on an appointment time of 15 to 20 minutes.

How Do You Schedule this Exam?

Patients must have a signed prescription from either their primary care physician or a cardiologist to schedule the exam. Most insurance plans do not cover the calcium scoring exam. There is a $100 fee, payable at the time the test is performed. Test results will be sent to the ordering physician within one week.

Patients with a physician’s prescription are requested to call IRMC’s Central Scheduling department at 724.357.7075 to schedule the exam.


Level of Hard Plaque Burden

Level of Significant Risk of CAD




Extremely low

Patient should maintain a healthy diet that is low in saturated fat and cholesterol, refrain from smoking, maintain ideal body weight, and exercise regularly.



Very unlikely

All of the above plus close control of diabetes and high blood pressure, and possibly the use of statins for high cholesterol.



Mild to moderate

All of the above plus daily aspirin, statins for high cholesterol and estrogen for postmenopausal women.



Moderate to high

All of the above plus use of folic acid and possibly stress testing for further risk assessment.

400 or greater


High to very high

All of the above plus stress testing to assess extent of obstructive disease and possibly cardiac angiography.

*A specific treatment plan will be determined by your referring physician.

For more information, download our Cardiac CT for Calcium Scoring brochure.

Contact Us

Central Scheduling department

Phone: 724.357.7075

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