Cardiac Scoring

What is Cardiac Scoring?
Cardiac scoring is a fast, noninvasive test of the coronary arteries to help determine a patient’s risk of coronary artery disease. Using our state-of-the-art, 64-slice CT (computed tomography) scanner, multiple images of the heart are obtained within seconds during a breath-hold. The amount of calcium or plaque within the coronary arteries is then determined. There are no needles or injections involved. After the study, the patient is free to return to his or her regular routine. At our center, a board-certified radiologist then determines the cardiac score with the aid of a computer work station.These basic facts concerning heart disease are central to the need for cardiac scoring.

  • Approximately 58 million Americans have some form of cardiovascular disease.
  • More Americans die of heart disease than of all types of cancer combined, and it is the number one killer of men and women in the US.
  • It is estimated that nearly half of sudden cardiac events (heart attacks or sudden death) occur in previously asymptomatic people.
  • The primary cause of heart disease is the buildup of plaque (atherosclerosis) in the arteries of the heart. As the plaque matures, calcium is deposited within it. This buildup of plaque causes narrowing of the artery and sometimes sudden blockage if the plaque ruptures. The result is diminished blood flow and oxygen delivery to heart muscle, which may lead to a heart attack or even sudden death. The purpose of cardiac scoring is to identify those people with atherosclerosis who have not yet experienced symptoms. Appropriate medical treatment and/or lifestyle changes can then be initiated to slow, halt, or possibly even reverse the disease process.

Patient Preparation for the Procedure
No patient preparation is necessary if only have a calcium score scan.

Frequently Asked Questions about Cardiac Scoring

Who should consider having a cardiac score exam?
We recommend cardiac scoring for those with 3 or more of these risk factors:

  • age (women over 55 and men over 45)
  • high cholesterol
  • history of smoking
  • high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • diabetes
  • family history of heart disease
  • obesity

Is cardiac scoring safe?
CT scanners use X-rays (radiation) to produce the images. The radiation exposure during the scoring exam is minimal, similar to that used to produce chest X-rays. No injections or needles are used.

What does my score mean?
Basically, the score correlates with the risk of coronary artery (cardiovascular) disease. A low score correlates with a low risk of having significant coronary artery disease. An intermediate or high score correlates with coronary disease, possibly with significant obstructive coronary disease. With this test, detection of heart disease is possible before symptoms occur. With this information, the patient’s physician can recommend appropriate treatment, including diet and lifestyle changes, medication, and/or further testing. The disease process may then be slowed, halted, or even possibly reversed.

What does the exam cost?
We provide discounts for direct payment to Hemet Valley Imaging.  Currently, many insurance companies do not pay for the exam, although it is recommended that people considering the exam contact their insurance companies and inquire about coverage.

How do I schedule the exam?
We require patients to schedule cardiac scoring through their physician’s office or to provide the name of a physician who can be contacted with results. In order to schedule an exam, please call (951) 658-9243.

When will my physician get the results?
A HVI radiologist will study the images and provide a written report which includes a description of the findings, any diagnosis that can be made from the exam, as well as a recommendation for further studies if needed. Our reports are usually available within 24 hours of completion of the examination, and are generally received by your physician within that same 24 hour period. A report may be delayed if we are awaiting studies from an outside facility for comparison purposes. If the results are urgent or if you are seeing your doctor on the same day as your exam, our radiologist will provide a preliminary report that will be faxed to your doctor, or in some cases, discussed directly with your doctor.