Coronary Calcium Scan

Heart disease is the number one cause of death of both men and women in the United States. 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. Calcification in the arteries of the heart is the earliest indicator of a buildup of plaque in the walls of these arteries and a sign of potential coronary artery disease. Many people with plaque or calcium deposits clogging their heart's blood vessels do not have any symptoms or warning signs that they may be in danger of having a heart attack.

The Coronary Calcium Scan performed using our 64-slice dual-source CT scanner can diagnose coronary artery disease at an early stage by taking precise pictures of the heart as it receives and sends out blood. Blocked or clogged blood arteries and other abnormalities can be detected without the need of surgery or the injection of tracking fluids.

The Coronary Calcium Scan uses a high-tech CT scanner to measure the amount of calcium found in the arteries of the heart. It takes pictures many times faster than a conventional CT scanner, resulting in images that are clearer and easier to read because the camera
is not affected by the beating of the heart muscle and blood flow.

The Coronary Calcium Scan produces a calcium score that indicates the patient's level of calcium deposits. After taking into account such factors as age, gender and cardiac risk factors, doctors use the calcium score as a strong measure of the risk for coronary artery disease.

A physician's referral is not required for this scan.

It is recommended that women older than 55 and men older than 45 have this test, as well as patients with these risk factors:

  • Family history of heart disease
  • High cholesterol levels
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • High-stress lifestyle
  • No regular exercise program

A Coronary Calcium Scan takes only 10 minutes and is completely painless. While the patient lies on an exam table, three electrocardiograph leads are placed on the chest to synchronize the scan with the motion of the heart. A series of pictures is then taken, involving only a small amount of radiation. A blood sample is also taken to determine the cholesterol level at the time of the test.

A specialist in cardiac imaging explains preliminary results of the scan to the patient at the end of the test. A final written report is later sent to the patient and designated physician. Referral arrangements can be made for patients who do not have a physician.

Before, During and After the Procedure

Cedars-Sinai's Heart Watch Program

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center has earned a worldwide reputation for evaluating new methods of detecting, evaluating and treating heart disease. Cardiac Imaging at the S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center has pioneered efforts to analyze risk factors and noninvasive test results as they relate to determining the risk of coronary artery disease.

The Heart Watch Program represents the joint efforts of the S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center with the Division of Cardiology at Cedars-Sinai. Heart Watch refers to a special and unique overall assessment that weighs the patient's medical history, cholesterol levels and Coronary Calcium Scan results to determine the chances of coronary artery disease, as well as the risk for heart attack.

Contact Us

S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
8700 Beverly Blvd., Suite M-335
(Corner of San Vicente Boulevard & Gracie Allen Drive)
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Phone: (310) 423-8000
Fax: (310) 423-5654