A CT scan of the heart uses radiation to provide a clear image of the heart and the arteries that surround it. This type of testing can be used to detect a multitude of issues such as heart disease, plaque buildup in the coronary arteries, and more. The purpose of this test is to ensure that your heart is working properly and to also identify anything that might be hindering your heart. 

A heart computerized tomography (CT) scan is also known as a calcium-score screening heart scan – and it is mostly used to detect any calcium deposits in the heart, such as plaque, that will buildup and cause issues when blood and oxygen needs to be pumped around the body. These scans are a useful way to spot an issue before it becomes a major problem and it can have a positive impact on the body by allowing your doctor to start treatment of existing issues as well as assess your risk of any other issues in the future. 

It is important to note that not all heart issues can be seen via a CT scan, however the test can be used to decide if you are at high risk and this will allow your physician to make decisions for your care based on these facts. Often your doctor will take a CT scan and also something called a coronary CT angiogram (CTA) and this will allow them to gain a clearer picture of the arteries around the heart and therefore detect more issues. 

When is a heart CT scan used? 

When you visit your doctor and they deem that you have any of the symptoms that come commonly along with heart problems, your doctor will order a CT scan and will be looking for one or more of the following things: 

  • Calcium plaque buildup in the body that may be blocking the arteries and preventing blood flow
  • Congenital heart disease 
  • Birth defects in the heart such as a hole 
  • Blood clots in the chamber of the heart 
  • Tumours in or around the heart 
  • Injury to any or all of the heart valves 

A heart CT scan is a non invasive test and it is a common one ordered for those who are having heart problems. It is incredibly useful and gives a clear and full picture of the heart to allow your doctor to assess what is wrong and make adjustments and provide the right treatments. 

Why are heart CT scans useful? 

When taking a look at treatment or testing options for your body, you may be feeling a little retescent or perhaps unsure about a heart CT scan and this is completely normal. Everyone has reservations with treatment and testing options and it is important for you to learn why a heart CT scan can be a useful tool and one which is better than some of the other options. 

First of all, a heart CT scan will produce 3D imaging which is incredibly detailed and this will allow doctors to look at your arteries and see if they are narrowing – and if so – how much they are narrowing. By showing an image in so much detail it is easier for a doctor to detect an issue quickly and address the problem before it is too late for treatment to be administered. As a patient, it is important to be informed about the different forms of testing in advance and you can make a decision that feels right to you. 

When deciding if you want to take a heart CT scan it is also important to consider that there are risks due to the exposure to radiation. This is a very low level of radiation which should not have a negative impact, but if you are unsure that you want this then think twice before you take the test. 

Your doctor during a consultation will likely talk to you about all of your options and talk you through the reasons why you might want a heart CT scan and what it can do for you and for them. It is important for you to listen carefully and take in all of the information you can before you make a decision. 

If you are over the age of 45 or you have a family history of heart disease, it might be a good idea to consider having an annual CT scan on your heart to monitor it and make sure that it is in working order. A heart CT scan can be a very useful tool.