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What is Coronary Artery Calcium scoring?

Coronary Artery Calcium (CAC) scoring is a non-invasive method of measuring coronary artery calcification using Computed Tomography (CT). It is a way to check on the health and function of your heart, and review the likelihood of future injury or disease. It estimates, with good statistical correlation, the amount of atherosclerotic plaque in your heart’s arteries. This can predict the chance of future myocardial infarction (heart attack) and mortality from cardiovascular disease. Patients will receive a risk score graded from ‘high’ to ‘low’ reflecting the levels of plaque, and potential lifestyle changes to reduce this score may be suggested.

Please note, while you may make an appointment for this scan without a referral, Adelaide MRI would advise that you discuss your concerns with your GP and consider obtaining a referral first.

What is CAC scoring used for?

Finding out early about a potentially fatal disease, such as coronary artery atherosclerosis, before you experience any symptoms, can profoundly influence your future behaviour and significantly reduce your risk of heart attack and premature death if you adopt healthier lifestyle choices.

Multiple studies show patients change their risk profile, by changing what they eat, obtaining regular exercise, ceasing smoking, and losing weight. Patients are more likely to stick to medications that lower cholesterol or blood pressure, if these are needed. Sometimes patients can make a choice not to start medications, if their calcium score predicts a low risk of heart attack or stroke.

For some patients in their 40s or 50s, the first sign of heart disease may be a fatal heart attack.  Survivors of acute infarction are frequently left with disabling, life-changing symptoms because the heart muscle is often permanently damaged or even destroyed when the first symptom is a heart attack. As such, detecting disease before the onset of symptoms benefits both the patient and the community. Early detection of heart artery atherosclerosis can save lives, if a high risk profile is changed over time.

Coronary Artery Calcium scoring as a screening test is backed by good quality evidence to inform both doctors and patients. Latest recommendations have been included in the Expert Consensus Statement released by the Society of Cardiovascular Computed Tomography in 2017.

NOTE: Preventative scanning is intended to review the concerns of patients without symptoms. If you are experiencing any pain, a change in your ability to perform daily activities, weakness or any other symptoms, please contact your GP.

What does a CAC scoring scan show?

A Coronary Artery Calcium scan can identify if your calcium grading is high, which can indicate that you have an increased chance of a heart attack or stroke. The higher your calcium grading, the greater your risk over the next five to ten years.

How long does a CAC scoring scan take?

The Coronary Artery Calcium scoring scan itself lasts approximately 10 minutes. Your total appointment may take longer to allow for a short waiting period, giving the technician time to explain your scan to you, and payment. A written report based on your scan will be finalised over the next 48 hours and returned to you or your referring doctor.

How much does a CAC scan cost?

Preventative imaging is not covered by Medicare, but can be requested by your family doctor. Please contact us to receive a competitive quote for your scan. You can pay by phone when you make your booking or pay in person when you arrive for your scan. We accept cash, card, Eftpos or cheque, but do not accept AMEX.

Where can I get my CAC scan done?

Adelaide MRI offers the Coronary Artery Calcium Scoring service at all our practice locations.

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