Cardiac Calcium Scoring

What is Cardiac Calcium Scoring?

More Americans die of heart disease than all types of cancer combined. Recent studies have shown cardiac calcium scoring to be a more powerful predictor of heart disease than cholesterol levels.

Cardiac calcium scoring is a procedure that reveals the amount of calcified plaque on the coronary arteries, an indicator of a person’s risk of heart attack before symptoms begin to show.

What will the exam be like?

During cardiac calcium scoring, patients lie comfortably on an imaging table and hold their breath for intervals of approximately 20 seconds while a CT scanner takes images of their coronary arteries. The non-contrast CT scan is fast, safe, and accurate.

After the exam, one of our radiologists reviews the images for areas of arterial calcification, or “plaque” buildup. The total amount of “plaque” buildup the images reveal determines a patient’s overall cardiac risk, which is designated by a number called a Coronary Artery Calcium (CAC) score.

Who may benefit from Cardiac Calcium Scoring?

Anyone 40 years of age or older who is considered at-risk for heart disease based on family history or personal history may benefit by having cardiac calcium scan. This includes you if you have:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Family history of heart disease
  • History of smoking
  • Sedentary or stressful lifestyle
  • Overweight by 20% or more


  • Pregnancy
  • Pacemakers
  • Orthopedic hardware in the mid or lower thoracic spine

Preparing for a Cardiac Calcium Scan

  • No tobacco, coffee, caffeinated soda, or chocolate for six hours prior to the test
  • No vigorous exercise for 24 hours prior to the test
  • No gum chewing on the day of the test
  • Eat and take medications as normal