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HeartSmart CT Scan

Guiding heart care with a quick and painless CT screening

According to the American Heart Association, about 2 in 10 deaths from coronary artery disease (CAD) happen in adults less than 65 years old. As we age, plaque begins to build up inside our arteries. This build-up of plaque is called coronary artery disease. It is a slow, progressive condition that can go undetected for years. This build-up can limit or block the flow of blood to the heart, resulting in a heart attack. Fortunately, coronary artery disease, and the risk factors that lead to it, can be successfully treated when detected in early stages.

What is a HeartSmart CT scan?

The HeartSmart CT Scan is an early detection screening for people who are not having symptoms, but who are at moderate risk for developing coronary artery disease. A CT scanner is used to identify hard calcified plaque buildup inside the heart arteries. The amount of hardened plaque is assigned a score. Higher scores indicate a higher risk for experiencing a heart attack. The HeartSmart CT Scan can help your provider to better determine the level of risk and guide them in how to approach treatment.

You must meet these requirements before scheduling an appointment:

  • You have never been diagnosed with coronary artery disease (CAD) or peripheral artery disease (PAD).
  • You have never received a calcium score greater than zero.
  • It has been at least five years since receiving a calcium score of zero.
  • You are a man between the ages of 40 and 75 or a woman between the ages of 45 and 75.*
  • You are not experiencing chest pain or shortness of breath. If you are are, call 911 immediately.

*If your age falls outside the recommended parameters, a physician’s referral will be required before scheduling an appointment.

If you answer yes to all of these requirements, you’re an appropriate candidate to schedule a HeartSmart CT Scan.

These scans may not be necessary or appropriate for some people. If you have a history of coronary artery or vascular disease, have had a prior abnormal HeartSmart CT scan, or fall within certain low- or high-risk age groups, you should discuss with your physician or cardiologist whether a HeartSmart CT Scan will help guide their care.

Note: The risks of a HeartSmart CT Scan should be considered and discussed prior to scheduling. These include: a low dose of radiation exposure from the CT scan, the potential of a “false positive” or “false negative” test and incidental findings that may lead to further evaluation.

What risk factors contribute to developing coronary artery disease?

If you have had a diagnosis of CAD, you do not need a HeartSmart CT Scan. However, if you have several of the following risk factors – without a diagnosis – you should consider scheduling a HeartSmart CT Scan:

  • Family history* of heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Vascular disease
  • Excess weight
  • Tobacco use
  • Diabetes
  • Stressful lifestyle
  • Inactive lifestyle

*Family history may mean earlier screening is recommended when a person’s biological mother or father, or full biological sister or brother experiences a heart event at an early age resulting from coronary artery disease, it is recommended to begin screening at an age 10 years younger than that family member was when they experienced their first event. For example, if their father had a heart attack due to blockage at 43 years old, begin screening at 33.

What can I expect during my CT scan?

During this 15 – 20-minute appointment, a CT technologist will place EKG patches on the chest, which will not require undressing. There are no needles, just a quick and painless scan. While laying on a firm table, patients will hold a couple of brief breaths while being moved in, then out of the scanner. Avoid caffeine and nicotine before the test, as a fast heart rate can prevent the ability to get a proper scan.

What are the accepted forms of payment?

Full payment of $50 is expected at the time of the appointment. Typically, insurance does not cover the cost of screenings. However, most insurance providers do approve the use of a health savings account (HSA) or flex spending account (FSA) for the HeartSmart CT Scan. Check the provider plan for details. Parkview accepts cash, check, Visa, Mastercard or Discover. Please note: American Express and Care Credit are NOT accepted. Some employers offer discounted HeartSmart CT Scans to their employees. Provide the printed code during scheduling and present the coupon at time of payment.

What is done with the results?

The HeartSmart CT Scan is not a substitute for care by a provider. Test results are sent to your physician and should be reviewed with them to determine if any further management or evaluation is needed. If a score greater than zero is received, no additional HeartSmart CT Scans are necessary. This is a screening for hardened plaque in the heart arteries. A positive score is an indication of disease. A physician will determine your path of care.

What if I don't have an established provider?
We can help you establish care with a provider and location convenient for you. Call the Parkview Access center at 877-PPG-TODAY or 877-774-8632 to schedule an appointment.