Frequently Asked Questions

What is a coronary calcium score?

A calcium score is a measure used to estimate the amount of cholesterol plaque in your arteries. A higher calcium score can mean a higher likelihood of suffering a heart attack. The Heart Healthy CT Scan is a simple, painless test that identifies your coronary calcium score.

Is a Heart Healthy CT Scan right for me?

A Heart Healthy CT Scan is recommended for men age 40+ and women age 45+ with one or more of these heart disease risk factors:

  • Hypertension (blood pressure greater than 140/90)
  • Cholesterol level greater than 160/LDL
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Tobacco use
  • Family history of heart disease

Further diagnostic studies, if needed, may be covered by your insurance provider.

A Heart Healthy CT Scan is NOT recommended for persons who have previously had a Heart Healthy CT Scan or been diagnosed with or treated for Coronary Artery Disease (CAD), Acute Myocardial Infarction (AMI), stents, bypass surgery, Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD), Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA), stroke, or End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD).

Is a doctor’s order required to have a Heart Healthy CT Scan?

A doctor’s order is not required to have a Heart Healthy CT Scan, unless you are under the ages mentioned above and/or do not meet any of the heart disease risk factors. We request that you provide contact information for your primary care doctor to receive your scan results. If you do not have a primary care doctor, we invite you to visit our Primary Care website.

What can I expect when getting a Heart Healthy CT Scan?

There are no diet restrictions and no special preparations required. Check in with Outpatient Admissions when you arrive at the hospital. Please bring your photo ID and payment method (cash, check or credit card). The test is painless and is performed in minutes using a CT (computed tomography) scanner. You will lay flat on your back to enter the CT scanner, so pants or shorts may be preferred.

When will I receive my test results?

A report containing your coronary calcium score will be sent to you and your primary care doctor within two weeks of your scan. The table below provides basic guidelines for interpreting your calcium score. Please consult with your primary care doctor or cardiologist to develop a plan for your heart health.

Calcium ScoreInterpretation
0No identifiable atherosclerotic plaque. Very low cardiovascular disease risk.
Less than 5% chance of presence of coronary artery disease.
A negative examination.
1-10Minimal plaque burden.
Significant coronary artery disease very unlikely.
11-100Mild plaque burden.
Likely mild or minimal coronary stenosis.
101-400Moderate plaque burden.
Moderate non-obstructive coronary artery disease highly likely.
Over 400Extensive plaque burden.
High likelihood of at least one significant coronary stenosis (>50% diameter).

For questions not addressed on our frequently asked questions page, please consult your primary care physician or contact Seton Heart Institute at 512-324-9999, ext. 21855.