What is Heart CT Scan?
A Heart CT scan (or coronary CT angiography) is a type of imaging test that uses advanced computer technology to create detailed images of the heart and its vessels. This test helps doctors diagnose conditions such as heart disease, coronary artery disease, and abnormalities in the heart.
Preparation for a Heart CT Scan
Typically there is little to no preparation needed for a heart CT scan. Depending on the type of scan being performed, it may be necessary to drink a contrast solution or take a medication to prepare for the test. However, it is important that any preparation instructions be followed thoroughly. Before undergoing any imaging tests, it is important to inform the doctor of any existing medical conditions, medications being taken, and allergies.
Procedure of Heart CT Scan
During a heart CT scan, patients generally lie on a table that runs through the center of a large donut-shaped scanner. The scanner uses x-ray technology to take detailed pictures of the heart in different angles. The test usually takes 10-20 minutes. It is important that patients remain still during the procedure to ensure accurate results.
Types of Heart CT Scans
- Coronary CTA: uses x-ray technology to look at the heart's arteries and detect any blockages, as well as calcium buildup in the arterial walls.
- Cardiac CT: looks at the heart in slices so doctors can examine any abnormalities.
- Cardiac CT Angiography: looks at the arteries leading to the heart and any blockages.
Risks of Heart CT Scan
Although heart CT scans are generally safe, there are a few risks associated with the procedure. These include an increased risk of radiation exposure, which can lead to an increased risk of cancer, as well as an allergic reaction due to the contrast material used. It is important that any allergies or medical issues be reported prior to the scan to reduce the risks associated with the procedure.
Why have a Heart CT Scan?
Heart CT scans can be used to diagnose and monitor a range of conditions related to the heart. They can detect coronary artery disease, blockages, or narrowing that could be potentially dangerous. They can also identify the presence of aortic aneurysms, heart defects, and cardiac tumors. Results from a heart CT scan can help doctors make informed decisions about the best treatment plan for a patient.
When to have a Heart CT Scan
Heart CT scans are typically recommended for people with symptoms of cardiovascular disease, or if the doctor suspects a condition such as narrowing of the coronary arteries. Other risk factors for a heart CT scan include diabetes, a family history of heart disease, and high blood pressure. People with these risk factors should speak to their doctor about the potential benefits of the test.