Cardiac CT Scan
Many people think of a cardiac CT scan as reserved for those with heart problems. However, this life-saving test doctors can use to aid those without heart problems. Believe it or not, a cardiac CT scan can help doctors diagnose and monitor heart disease in people with no symptoms. Some may be hesitant to get a significant diagnostic test done, but don’t let the fear of a cardiac CT scan keep you from seeking necessary care.
It’s an important diagnostic tool that can help your doctor assess your heart health and determine any necessary treatment. With advances in technology, cardiac CT scans are becoming more and more common, and they’re not as scary as they may seem. So if you’re requesting a cardiac CT scan for your peace of mind or your doctor has ordered one, there’s no need to wait because it can save your life!
What is a cardiac CT scan?
The “CT” in CT scan stands for “computed tomography”. Tomography is a type of imaging that allows radiologists and doctors to view sections and different angles of whatever is scanned via X-ray. Think of slicing an apple in half and then in quarters. When doing so, you can see the inside, outside, the core, etc. When getting a cardiac CT scan of the heart, the goal is for doctors to see in-depth 3D images to determine if something harmful is going on internally.
Cardiac CT scans allow doctors to see heart arteries, valves, the aorta, veins, muscles, chambers, and the sac surrounding the heart. With this access, they can tell if there is a buildup of calcium in the arteries, see if there is a narrowing or blockage in the arteries, and look for problems with any other structure of the heart. This technique is also used to plan for heart surgery; surgeons greatly appreciate the technological advancement of the cardiac CT scan!
These advancements make the CT scan easy and efficient.
How does a cardiac CT scan work?
When arriving at the radiologist, they will take you into the X-ray room where you will lie down on a medical table with your head facing a large machine that looks similar to a donut. The technician will place electrode patches on your chest to monitor heart activity.
Once you are prepped, the table will slide into the center of the machine, and the technician will ensure it’s in the appropriate position. When the CT scanner turns on, you will hear buzzing and clicking, which is normal. Some people get anxious, feel claustrophobic in a small space, or feel stressed when hearing the scanner sounds. If this sounds like you, your primary doctor may give you medicine before the cardiac CT scan to feel more relaxed.
Overall, the cardiac CT scan doesn’t take long. With prep included, expect to finish the process in about 30 to 45 minutes. This scan is entirely pain-free, and patients can drive themselves to and from the appointment – unless they prefer not to.
Millions of people in America require a cardiac CT scan; therefore, cardiologists often order them, and radiologists are experts at giving them to patients.
Who may need a cardiac CT scan?
Every day, people make life-saving decisions. It could be a choice to undergo surgery or take medication. For some, it might be whether or not to have a cardiac CT scan. Who needs this test?
According to health experts, the following are common reasons someone might need a cardiac CT scan:
- To evaluate the cause of chest pain and shortness of breath.
- Check your heart arteries for calcium or plaque buildup, narrowing, or blockages.
- To assess your heart valves.
- To see if there’s a problem with your aorta, including aneurysms and dissection.
- To plan for open or minimally invasive/robotic heart surgery.
- To plan for transcatheter/percutaneous valve procedures.
- To plan for arrhythmia ablation procedures.
- To assess for complications associated with the above procedures.
- To see if you have a congenital (since birth) heart problem.
- To see and characterize any tumor or mass in or around your heart.
- Look at the sac around your heart and see if there’s fluid or calcification there.
Of course, there may be other reasons why a doctor might request a cardiac CT scan. Ultimately, this simple action can be the difference between life and death.
If you have symptoms related to any of the above or have a family history of heart problems, please speak with your doctor and see a cardiologist. Getting an order for a cardiac CT scan is simple and worth the peace of mind. Cardiologists at Cardiovascular Group in the Atlanta area are dedicated to keeping your heart healthy and in tip-top shape. Their team of doctors will be with you every step of the way, including preparing you for your cardiac CT scan. Contact CVG to request an appointment today.