CT coronary calcium scoring is the single most accurate assessment of heart attack risk. This painless, non-invasive test is endorsed by the American Heart Association and is the only non-invasive method that can directly identify atherosclerotic plaque buildup in the coronary vessels. CT images show all calcified plaques in the coronary arteries. The total amount of disease (plaque) is calculated to determine the calcium score, which accurately predicts a patient's probability of a heart attack over the next few years. The calcium score allows referring physicians to aggressively treat their patients who are discovered to be at high risk.
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To determine the calcium score, non-invasive, electrodes (small sticky discs) will be attached to a patient's chest and to an electrocardiograph (ECG) machine that records the electrical activity of the heart. This makes it possible to record CT scans when the heart is not actively contracting. Medicare and most insurance companies do not pay for this study. Currently, the cash pay screening is priced at $300.
To proceed with cardiac scoring, an individual would need to obtain a medical provider's order. While calcium scoring can be useful for patients thought to be at low, intermediate, and high risk for coronary artery disease, it is typically recommended for men over the age of 45 and postmenopausal women age 55 and older who also have one or more major risk factors for a heart attack, such as: