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Heart Scan: Coronary CTA

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Heart Scan: Calcium Score
Heart Scan: Coronary CTA
Heart Scan: Cardiac MRI
Coronary Disease in Women
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Contact Us to schedule a coronary CTA.

What Is Coronary CTA?
Coronary CTA is a test that directly visualizes the coronary arteries. It is performed with a CT scanner and an injection of a dye that contains iodine. The entire exam takes less than 30 minutes.

How Can Coronary CTA Help You?
Coronary CTA assesses for the presence and determines the severity of blockages of the arteries to the heart (coronary arteries). These blockages are due to fat and cholesterol ("plaques") that stick to the arterial wall and narrow the arteries. They are the principle cause of heart attack and sudden cardiac death. Severe blockage of the coronary arteries also causes chest pain and shortness of breath. Once these blockages are detected, your doctor can work with you to decrease the rate of plaque build-up and possibly even reverse it.

How Does Coronary CTA Differ From Calcium Scoring?
Coronary CTA requires the injection of intravenous dye to visualize the coronary arteries, to determine whether plaque is present, and if so, to determine the degree to which it narrows the artery. Calcium scoring is performed with no intravenous injection. It does not visualize narrowing of the coronary arteries. Instead, it detects and quantifies calcified plaque, which is only a small portion of the total plaque. The results can be used to determine a patient's arterial age and are a powerful predictor of heart attack and sudden cardiac death. Click here for more information on calcium scoring.

How Does Coronary CTA Differ From a Stress Test?

Both stress tests and coronary CTA are used to assess narrowing of the coronary arteries. Coronary CTA directly visualizes the coronary artery and can distinguish among patients with no disease, mild-moderate disease, and severe disease. Stress testing does not directly visualize the coronary arteries. It identifies patients with severe disease, but cannot distinguish patients with no disease from those with mild-moderate disease. In other words, stress testing cannot differentiate someone with totally normal coronary arteries from someone that has many blockages, none of which causes narrowing of the artery by more than 50%. This is important, because patients with mild-moderate blockages go undetected and miss the chance for medical treatment.

Does Coronary CTA Involve Radiation?
Yes. The amount of radiation varies greatly with the type of equipment being used and the experience of the technologist performing the study. At our center we have special hardware and software that allow us to acquire images prospectively, which decreases the radiation dose to less than half of what one would receive from a typical nuclear stress test. Click here for more information.

Who Should Have This Test?
If you are concerned about the possibility of blockages of the arteries to your heart you should see your doctor. 

Contact Us to schedule a coronary CTA.