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The heart scan is a computed tomography (CT) scan of the heart that uses x-rays to create detailed pictures of the heart and its blood vessels. It is a rapid assessment tool for identifying haemodynamically significant cardiac abnormalities in the critical care setting. Specifically, physicians use heart scans to look for calcium deposits in the coronary arteries that can narrow arteries and increase the risk of heart attack. It is similar to the Focused assessment with sonography for trauma scan in concept, although it is directed at the heart rather than the abdomen. Often called a coronary calcium scan, it provides a score that can be used to determine the risk of a coronary event. Unlike an EKG (which would mostly show the results of past heart attacks) and Thallium Stress Test (which only shows up advanced blockages of 70% or more), the heart scan is an excellent way to determine if a person has Coronary Arterial Disease.
The aims of the heart scan are to:
- detect cardiovascular disease
- assess haemodynamic status (e.g. hypovolaemia)
- assess Heart valve lesions
- assess Pericardial effusion
The views used by a heart scan are the same as or a subset of the full transthoracic views. Views are obtained from up to three windows where possible:
- Parasternal Window
- Apical Window
- Subcostal Window
A positive result on a heart scan will indicate that there is a clinically significant abnormality in cardiac status. This test is graded using the *Agatston Score. It is recommended for men over 35 and women over 45 with a history of smoking or family heart disease and also for people with elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure, or obesity.
- "Heart scan (coronary calcium scan)". Mayo Clinic. Retrieved 9 August 2015.