New equipment makes new heart test available
New CT scan equipment at St. Luke Hospital in Marion makes a less intrusive heart test available.
The hospital can now perform cardiac CT calcium scoring tests in-house.
The test measures calcified plaque inside the arteries to see if the patient might be prone to a cardiac disease or even a heart attack later, spokesman Roger Schroeder said.
“It’s another avenue to get those kinds of details,” Schroeder said. “It’s less intrusive than a heart cath.”
A heart catheterization, often used to measure plaque buildup in the arteries to the heart, involves a physician threading a thin tube, inserted in an artery in the groin, neck, or arm, up to the heart to see the amount of plaque in the blood vessels. If stents are needed to correct a problem, the stents are inserted at the time.
A calcium scan can help guide treatment decisions for patients with low to moderate risk of heart disease.
Plaque is formed by cholesterol, calcium, fats, and other substances. When it builds up in the arteries, it can restrict blood flow to the muscles of the heart. It can also burst and trigger a blood clot that causes a heart attack.
Calcium scoring began being used to assess if patients needed to start statin drug therapy. It also can tell physicians if plaque is starting to rupture.
“You can catch people with risk factors and no clinical symptoms yet,” Schroeder said. “It’s kind of a preventative thing at this point.”
The test won’t fix anything, as might be done during a heart cath. It could alert physicians that there is a problem, he said.
“This is a good tool to possibly prevent some things for people who may not have telltale signs,” Schroeder said.
Some insurance plans don’t cover coronary calcium scans. At St. Luke, patients use the hospital’s online MDsave program in preparing for the scan.
St. Luke charges $99 for the scan. Before the test is scheduled, patients log on to the MDsave website, scroll down find St. Luke Hospital, and choose the coronary calcium scan procedure.
Then they make payment through MDsave. When payment is completed, MDsave provides a voucher to be taken to the hospital.
Last modified March 19, 2020