Coronary Calcium Scan

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Cardiovascular services are provided at our main facility at Cherry Hill and at multiple locations in King, Snohomish, Clallam and Grays Harbor Counties.

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Recent advances in technology make it possible to capture well-focused, detailed pictures of the inside of your heart. This procedure is called electron beam tomography, or EBT. It uses the latest advances in high-speed imaging, coupled with sophisticated computerized 3-D imaging techniques.

An EBT procedure is quick, comfortable and federally approved for routine screening. The Swedish Heart & Vascular Institute is making this technology available as part of a comprehensive program for preventing and managing heart disease.

The well-known risk factors for heart disease — such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes — can be useful for indicating how healthy a heart is. But they don't tell the whole story: Even if you don't have any known risk factors, you could still be at risk.

In fact, for 450,000 Americans each year, the very first symptom of a heart problem is an unexpected, sudden heart attack. For one-third of them, that first attack is fatal. That's what makes an EBT imaging study so valuable. It is the first and only screening test approved by the Food and Drug Administration that can actually look inside the heart.

What EBT Shows

The most significant finding of an EBT exam is the amount of calcified plaque in your coronary arteries —the arteries that supply blood to your heart muscle. Calcified plaque in the coronary arteries is easy to see on an EBT scan because it has become hard and dense.

A heart attack happens when plaque ruptures in your coronary arteries, leading to the sudden blockage of blood flow to the heart. There's a well-established relationship between coronary plaque and calcified plaque. If you have more of one, you'll have more of the other. Due to this association, EBT is the most definitive method available for detecting early stage coronary-artery disease.

What to Expect

EBT is quick and noninvasive. You won't even have to change clothes, unless you're wearing clothing with metal buttons or other metallic parts that might block the electron beam. The imaging equipment has an open-frame design, so few patients report any feelings of claustrophobia or anxiety. You'll be asked to lie on a table and hold your breath once or twice. The actual imaging process takes less than one minute.

A Full Report on the Condition of Your Heart

After the test, you'll receive a report package that contains a series of images of your heart, a "score" that shows how healthy your coronary arteries are and a detailed explanation of the findings. Your personal physician will be mailed a copy of the report as well.

Swedish cardiac-health specialists will also be available to help you. You may arrange an appointment to discuss your findings and explore the steps you might take to lower your risk of a heart attack.

Is EBT for You?

An EBT exam is recommended if you are a man between the ages of 40 and 70 or a woman between 45 and 75. It is particularly recommended if you have other risk factors for heart disease such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, a history of smoking, diabetes or a family history of heart disease.

Call Us to Schedule an Appointment

If you're concerned about the condition of your heart, an EBT exam may be right for you. You can talk with your doctor about scheduling an EBT exam or make your own appointment by calling 206-320-4411.