If you're experiencing symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or discomfort in your arms, jaw, or neck, your doctor may recommend a Cardiac CT Scan or a Calcium Score Scan. These symptoms can be a sign of heart disease or blockages in your heart's arteries, which can lead to serious complications if left untreated. Your doctor may also recommend these scans if you have risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or a family history of heart disease. By identifying any potential issues early on, these scans can help your doctor develop a personalised treatment plan to improve your heart health and prevent any further complications. Specialist Cardiac CT scans are advanced diagnostic imaging procedures that use Computed Tomography (CT) technology to produce detailed and highly precise images of specific parts of the body. They are non-invasive, highly precise, and can be performed quickly and efficiently.
At Blackrock Health, we have some of Ireland's most respected cardiologists, and cardiac & vascular surgeons on our team. No other hospital group in Ireland has as many female cardiologists. The Blackrock Clinic, in particular, has a long history of pioneering the newest heart treatments and procedures. Our three hospitals, the Blackrock, Galway, and Hermitage Clinics, ensure best practice in care. We provide minimally invasive treatments and the latest technology as well as traditional techniques. Blackrock Health also offers fast access to the five Cath Labs in our three hospitals. We provide the most accurate diagnostics and effective care plan possible, with the least possible delay. We offer easy access to our teams of consultants and clinical experts and are committed to helping you achieve optimal heart and vascular health. We understand that waiting for diagnostic results can be stressful. That's why we offer fast access to our state-of-the-art CT scanning facilities in Blackrock, Galway, and Hermitage Clinics. These include:
- Cardiac CT scan: This type of scan is used to evaluate the heart and blood vessels. It can help detect blockages or other abnormalities in the arteries that supply blood to the heart.
- Calcium Score scan: A calcium score scan, also known as a coronary calcium scan, is a non-invasive diagnostic test that uses computed tomography (CT) technology to measure the amount of calcium deposits in the arteries of the heart. A low or zero calcium score suggests a very low risk of heart attack.
What is Coronary Artery Disease?
Coronary Artery Disease is form of heart disease. It is caused by artherosclerosis (hardening) of the arteries with cholesterol build-up, and calcification (calcium build up) of the coronary arteries.
The cardiac CT scan can detect the presence of calcium at a very early stage. This can even be before any significant blockage has developed, and years before a standard health screening or exercise ECG would detect the disease.
Preparation for your Cardiac CT Scan
Prior to the scan, your heart needs to be beating at a certain rate to ensure a proper diagnostic result. Medication may need to be given at your appointment if your heart rate is not at the required level. This will be in the form of a tablet known as a beta-blocker. A radiographer will carry out pre-scan checks which will determine this. You may be given a contrast dye, either orally or intravenously, to help the images show up more clearly. The dye travels through the blood vessels and highlights any blockages or abnormalities in the blood vessels of the heart.
There are two stages to a Cardiac CT Scan:
Stage 1. A Calcium Score – to detect calcium deposits within the coronary arteries.
Stage 2. A CT coronary angiogram – to demonstrate the anatomy and pathology of the coronary arteries.
Calcium Score Scan
A calcium score scan, also known as a coronary calcium scan, is a non-invasive diagnostic test that uses computed tomography (CT) technology to measure the amount of calcium deposits in the arteries of the heart.
During the test, the patient lies down on a table, and a CT scanner takes pictures of the heart from different angles. The images are then processed by a computer to create a calcium score, which indicates the amount of calcium buildup in the coronary arteries.
Calcium buildup in the arteries is a sign of atherosclerosis, which is the hardening and narrowing of the arteries that can lead to heart disease. A high calcium score indicates a higher risk of developing heart disease in the future. A low or zero score shows you have a very low risk of a heart attack.
The calcium score scan is a quick and painless test that takes only about 10-15 minutes to complete. It is often used in conjunction with other diagnostic tests, such as a stress test, to help determine a patient's risk of heart disease and to guide treatment decisions.
For some patients, the less invasive Calcium Score alone is deemed to be sufficient for diagnosis. There is no preparation required for the Calcium Score.
You may leave the hospital straight after your scan and the results will be with the referring doctor within 2-3 days.
Cardiac CT Scan
A cardiac CT scan is a medical imaging test that uses X-rays to produce detailed images of the heart and its blood vessels. It is also known as coronary CT angiography (CTA) or cardiac computed tomography.
During the test, you lie down on a table that moves through a large, doughnut-shaped machine called a CT scanner. The scanner takes a series of X-ray images of the heart from different angles. The images are then combined by a computer to create a detailed 3D image of the heart and its blood vessels.
A cardiac CT scan can help diagnose a range of heart conditions. These include coronary artery disease, valve problems, and congenital heart defects. It can also be used to assess the severity of existing heart conditions and track the effectiveness of treatments.
How do I get this?
You will need a referral letter from your GP or consultant before you make an appointment.
Is this insured?
Not all services are covered by health insurance. To find out if you're covered, please check your health insurance before your visit. You can do this on our health insurance cover check page, or by contacting your health insurer.
How do I pay?
If you do not have health insurance or your health plan does not cover the full cost, you will need to pay the balance due before your treatment or procedure. You may be able to claim back some fees on your insurance. To pay an excess not covered by your insurance or any other inpatient fees, please visit our payment page. If you have any queries about paying for your care, please contact the finance team in your hospital.