Know Your Heart

Schedule a heart scan today - now only $99.

A heart scan (coronary calcium scan) is a low dose computed tomography (CT) scan of the heart. The primary purpose of the test is to evaluate for calcified plaque in the arteries of the heart.

People get heart scans for many reasons. Some have a family history of heart problems, or others are shaken due to a recent heart event that happened to a friend. Most of all, they get a scan for peace of mind.

Is a heart scan right for you?

Take this quiz:

____ Family history of heart disease?
____ Personal history of high blood pressure?
____ Personal history of high cholesterol?
____ Personal history of cigarette smoking?
____ Personal history of obesity?
____ Personal history of diabetes?

If you answered “yes,” consider a simple, non-invasive heart scan.

We do not recommend heart scans for men younger than 40 years, women younger than 50 years or those with known coronary artery disease (the buildup of plaque inside artery walls).

What is the cost?

$99. Most health plans do not cover the cost because it’s considered a screening test. However, you can be reimbursed through a flexible spending account (FSA), health savings account (HAS) or health reimbursement account (HRA).

What does the test look for?

The test looks for calcified plaque in the heart arteries. Plaque in the heart arteries starts as soft plaque made up of cholesterol and lipids. Over time, this plaque calcifies as your body tries to stabilize it. The test will identify and quantify the presence of this plaque. The results help your doctor determine your risk of having a heart attack and if early intervention with medications and/or additional testing is needed.

How long will the test take?

The test will take about 15 minutes or less from the time you arrive until the time you finish.

What do you need to prepare for the test?

No prior preparation is needed.

What happens during the test?

After you arrive, you will go to our CT scanning room and lie on the CT table. We will place electrodes on your chest so we can monitor your heart rate during the test. We will ask you to hold your breath for 20 to 30 seconds while obtaining the images.

Once the technologist is sure that all the information is gathered, you will be free to leave and return to your normal activities.

Does the test require intravenous (IV) contrast?

No.

How long is the actual scan for those worried about being claustrophobic?

You'll only be under the camera for a few minutes. The pictures themselves only take a few seconds to take. The tube you will lay in is 30 inches (2½ feet) wide, which is large enough to fit most body shapes and sizes comfortably.

When will you get the results?

Your primary care doctor should contact you within 3-5 business days to explain your results.

You would like to schedule a test. What now?

You will need a doctor’s referral because this test emits a low dose of radiation – about the amount of 15 chest x-rays, or a round trip flight from Minnesota to Europe and back. When you contact us for an appointment, we can help you with the referral process. Most primary care doctors write the referral the same day or the next day.

Tests take place at the CentraCare Heart & Vascular Center in St. Cloud, MN.