Patient Info

Calcium Score Test

Coronary artery disease is one of the leading causes of death in New Zealand. Coronary disease is well advanced by the time patients develop symptoms but for a long time before an event the disease process builds up slowly. Coronary arteries develop cholesterol in their walls associated with calcium deposits (hardening of the arteries). The calcium component of the coronary plaque can be seen easily, and its volume measured using CT scanning of the heart. This generates a calcium score. The calcium score is the biggest predictor of future cardiovascular events and a chance to get a window onto early disease in the arteries. This helps personalise risk factor management for each patient.

The absence of coronary calcification (calcium score of 0 Agatston units) is associated with a <1% 7 – 10 year risk of cardiovascular events.

A calcium score of >400 Agatston units confers a 10 – 30 times increased risk of cardiovascular events compared to a score of 0.

The test involves lying flat on a bed while the CT scanner passes over your chest region. Your head is well outside the scanner.

The quality of the scan is better if your heart rate is below 60 at the time of the scan. Depending on your heart rate you may be given a tablet of metoprolol to take 2 hours before the scan or at the time of arrival to slow the heartbeat. Please avoid tea and coffee before the scan and rushing to your appointment, to minimise the chance of your heart racing. You will be able to drive. Radiation exposure with a calcium score is low (less than a mammogram).

Calcium Scores are read by our Cardiologists and the report will be sent to your doctor who will make recommendations for your best management.

The cost of calcium scoring is only covered by a few insurance companies. Our secretaries will tell you if there is any charge at the time of booking.

CT Calcium scoring is done at Mercy Radiology 98 Mountain Rd, Epsom.

For further information please phone The Heart Group 09 623 1020

Click here to download the Calcium Score booklet for more information