Coronary Artery Calcium Scoring

Coronary artery disease is a leading cause of death in Australia, so finding which patients are at risk of coronary artery disease, is an important consideration. Calcium in the coronary arteries almost always indicates arterial disease or atherosclerotic plaque.

  • What is CACS

    Coronary artery calcium scoring (CACS) is a non-invasive test that estimates the amount of coronary artery plaque, by assessing the extent of coronary artery calcification using high-resolution CT scan. While a calcium score of ‘zero’ does not rule out disease, there is a low likelihood of significant coronary blockage. A high calcium score correlates with a moderate to high risk of a coronary event, or heart attack, within two to five years.

    CACS has a high negative predictive value (up to 98%), which means if your calcium score is low then this correlates very well with you having a low risk of coronary artery disease. Coronary artery calcium scanning is not as useful in patients who have a low or very high risk, or in those with known coronary artery disease. Possible reasons for your doctor requesting CACS consist of:

    Screening asymptomatic patients
    Screening patients with intermediate risk of coronary artery disease
    Presence of one or more risk factor such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol etc.
    Strong family history of early coronary artery disease

    Patients with diabetes or chronic kidney disease could have high calcium scores, which might not correlate with significant coronary artery disease.

    At Apex Radiology we routinely use CACS, at no additional charge, on each patient prior to CT coronary angiography to determine whether the coronary arteries are heavily calcified. If the calcium score is high, calcium may obscure the coronary arteries. The radiologist will review your CACS before staring CT coronary angiography.

    Apex Radiology performs CACS at South West Health Campus and Peel Health Campus, where staff have developed extensive technical expertise.

  • Before coronary artery calcium scoring

    Medicare does not provide patients with a rebate for CACS therefore any requests for Calcium Scores scans will be charged a private fee. Patients having a CACS during a CTCA will not be charged extra. There is no specific patient preparation for CACS. Patients are required to have a stable and/or low heart rate for this scan, if the heart rate is outwith the required rate, you may be given a medication to assist and therefore will be asked to stay in the department for 30mins prior to your scan and 30mins after.

  • During coronary artery calcium scoring

    No x-ray contrast is injected during this test.

    Our staff will ensure that all patients receive minimal radiation dose during an examination. The dose for CACS varies depending on factors such as patient size and body shape, but is relatively low.

  • After coronary artery calcium scoring

    A calcium score scan is very quick and easy if you have a steady heart rate, there will be no need to stay in the department after your scan if you haven’t been given any medication for your heart rate . Generally results will not be available immediately.

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