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Heart Screening

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General Information About Heart Screening

A simple, pain free, noninvasive CT scan of your heart that requires less than ten minutes and can help determine if you have coronary artery disease. It uses a multi-detector CT scanner that takes 120 images of your coronary arteries using four small EKG electrodes placed on your chest. No injections, needles or catheters are required.

The amount of calcium, or plaque, detected in your coronary arteries is calculated, and used to establish your cardiac score which provides information about your risk for heart disease or heart attack. Patients should refrain from caffeine four hours prior to their heart scan. The cost is $99.

Photo of Heart Screening

Questions About Heart Screening

Question: How Do I Schedule a Heart Screening?

Answer: These exams are elective procedures and can be scheduled directly with St. Paul Radiology by calling 651.632.5700. St. Paul Radiology encourages patients to discuss the risks and benefits of these elective procedures with their primary care physician. At your request, a copy of the medical report can be sent to your primary care provider.

Question: Who Should Consider a Preventative Screening Evaluation?

Answer: St. Paul Radiology’s clients are people who are interested in their preventative and wellness. They recognize the value of early detection in the prevention and the treatment of disease. They realize that true patient care begins with themselves, the patient.

Question: Are These Procedures the Same as the “Body Scan Vans” Seen in Other Parts of the Country?

Answer: No. St. Paul Radiology’s studies are performed in a licensed, state-of-the-art permanent facility.

Question: Who Will Interpret My Examination?

Answer: All studies are interpreted by Board Certified Radiologists (St. Paul Radiology) with expertise in both body imaging and preventative imaging. St. Paul Radiology takes a multi-disciplinary approach to provide reassurance that appropriate recommendations are made at the conclusion of the exam. These physicians participate in the multi-disciplinary diagnosis and treatment of vascular disease, lung disease, and oncologic disorders. Additionally, with your approval, St. Paul Radiology will provide reports and images to your primary care physician.

Question: What is the Mission of St. Paul Radiology’s Preventative Screening Program?

Answer: The program is designed to provide superior CT screening at state-of-the-art imaging centers for the early detection of coronary artery disease, lung cancer and colon cancer, while remaining committed to educating the consumer about the issues of quality, expertise and competence in the newly emerging field of preventative imaging. At the Preventative Screening Program, preventative imaging is performed in a controlled setting with direct physician supervision. Furthermore, the physicians of this practice are all Board Certified in Diagnostic Radiology. They are respected, active members of the Twin Cities medical community and they are on the medical staff of many Twin Cities area hospitals.

Question: What Are the Risk Factors for Heart Disease?

  • Family History of Heart Disease
  • Smoking
  • High Cholesterol
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Overweight
  • Diabetes
  • Sedentary Lifestyle

Question: What is a Heart Screening or Coronary Calcification Scoring?

Answer: Coronary artery calcification scoring is a pain free, non-invasive procedure that requires less than ten minutes. The multi-detector CT scanner takes 120 images of your coronary arteries without any injections, needles or catheters. Four EKG electrodes are placed on your chest to obtain images while your heart appears motionless. The amount of calcium or plaque detected in your coronary arteries is then used to establish your cardiac score.

Question: What Does the Heart Screening Coronary Calcification Score tell My Physician and Me?

Answer: Very early warning signs of heart disease can be detected with cardiac scoring. This is the latest tool available to detect plaque in the coronary arteries. There are five categories for calcium scores:
  1. A Score of 0 - No coronary artery disease
  2. A score of 1-11 - Indicates a minimal risk of coronary artery disease
  3. A score of 11-100 - Indicates a mild degree atherosclerotic, plaque burden
  4. A score of 101-400 - Indicates a moderate atherosclerotic plaque burden
  5. A score greater than 400 - Indicates an extensive atherosclerotic plaque burden

In addition to the total score, a percentile for age and gender is calculated. If the score >75 percentile for a patient's age/gender, then the physician will advance to recommendations for next higher calcium score range. With this information, you and your physician can formulate the appropriate treatment, which could include diet and life style changes, medications, and/or further testing.

No identifiable plaque. The probability of significant Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) is very unlikely, generally < 5%. The implications for Cardiovascular (CV) risk are very low. The recommendations are to discuss general public health guidelines for primary prevention of heart diseases.

Minimal identifiable plaque burden. The probability of significant CAD is very low, < 10%. The implications for CV risk are low. The recommendations are to discuss general public health guidelines for primary prevention of heart diseases.

Definite, at least mild atherosclerotic plaque burden. The probability of significant CAD-mild or minimal coronary stenosis likely. The implications for CV risk are low to moderate. The recommendations are to counsel about risk factor modification, strict adherence with National primary prevention guidelines for high cholesterol. Consult your physician.

Definite at least moderate atherosclerotic plaque burden. The probability of significant CAD-non-obstructive CAD highly likely, although obstructive disease possible. The implications for CV risk are moderate to high. The recommendations are to institute aggressive risk factor modification and secondary prevention guidelines for high cholesterol. Consult your physician.

Extensive atherosclerotic plaque burden. The probability of significant CAD-high likelihood (>=90%) of at least 1 significant coronary stenosis. The implications for CV risk are high. The recommendations are to institute very aggressive risk factor modifications. Consult your physician.

Question: Is Coronary Artery Disease Treatable?

Answer: Yes. Prevention, early detection, and early intervention are critical and can save many lives. Coronary artery atherosclerosis can be slowed, stabilized, and in some cases reversed through aggressive life-style modification and also through medical therapies under the supervision of a physician.

Question: Who Should Have the Heart Screening?

Answer: Coronary Calcium scoring is not for everyone. In general, it is most appropriate for men and women, age 40-70, who have one additional risk factor. It is not for people with already known coronary heart disease, arrhythmia's, or previous heart surgery. The screening could be the first step in preventing a major fatal cardiac event. The American Heart Association now recommends the heart screening as one of the first tests for atypical chest pain. Learn More.

Question: How Do I Prepare for the Heart Screening Examination?

Answer: There is no specific preparation for the screening. You may eat or drink, however caffeinated products may make your heart beat too fast. Avoid shirts with metal straps or buttons. Women should avoid wearing a bra with under-wire or metal closures. The test and facility have been specifically designed with your comfort in mind. At St. Paul Radiology, a private changing area and private gowns will be available.

Question: Is Cardiac Calcification Scoring Safe?

Answer: Yes. Radiation exposure is minimal. No needles, injections, or sedations are used.

Question: How Do I Receive the Results of My Heart Screening Examination?

Answer: At St. Paul Radiology, rapid results are essential, not only for your peace of mind, but also to begin the effective implementation of our recommendations. After completion of the test, a Board Certified Radiologist will analyze the images and calcification scores. You will be provided with a typed report and folder containing recommendations and pertinent images from your study. A letter will also be sent to the physician of your choice, if you so choose. St. Paul Radiology strongly encourages patients also review these results with their primary care physician to formulate a complete preventative plan.

Question: Is the Heart Screening Exam Covered By Insurance?

Answer: No. Currently, the heart screening is not covered by insurance. Direct payment is accepted at the time of the exam. Cash, check, and credit cards are accepted for payment. Many clients utilize their health care flexible medical spending accounts or medical savings plans to pay for their evaluation. Any additional tests needed are covered by insurance and must be ordered by your physician.

Question: Do I Need A Doctor's Referral for the Heart Screening?

Answer: No. St. Paul Radiology strongly encourages patients review these results with their primary care physician to formulate a complete preventative plan.

Photo of Heart Screening

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