Heart Saver CT Scan

During my recent holiday vacation, I took the opportunity to visit the Tucson Heart Hospital and get a Heart Saver CT Scan. First, I am not currently having any issues or symptoms of heart problems, but given a recent rash of friends, co-workers and relatives suffering heart attacks and/or issues, and given my family history of heart problems, I try to be pro-active in watching my heart health.

The Heart Saver CT Scan takes images of your heart and supplying arteries to look for calcium. These calcium deposits are strong indicators of arterial blockage, often the cause of many heart attacks. The procedure is easy and painless. You simple lay on a table for about 5 minutes while the CT scan occurs. The procedure is completely non-invasive and there are no needles, dye or injections. The scan occurs while fully clothed. The test is supposed to be 98% accurate.

The doctors then score you images for calcium buildup in your arteries and heart on a scale from 0 to 1500. The higher the number, the more blockage and the more urgent need for follow up care. Given my family history (both my father and grand-father died of heart attacks relatively young), I was a bit curious (and anxious) as to how I would score. About 8 years ago, in the same vein of pro-activeness, I underwent a full cardio exam including a stress test and showed no issues.

About 1 week after the test, I received the results via mail with a copy being sent to my primary care physician. My score was :thumbs_up: 3.5 :thumbs_up: I was very pleasantly surprised by the results. The engineer in me says it doesnt get much better than 3.5 on a scale of 0 – 1500. I am still going to schedule a session with my primary care doctor to go over the results and get his put on the results.

Some day not too far in the future, I still want to repeat the full cardio exam just to stay on top of it. With insurance being what it is today, that may not be possible without considerable expense. My exam 8 years ago was covered by insurance without any question. Today, I suspect, that will not be the case. The Heart Saver CT Scan was not covered by insurance, but the cost was only $155 – well worth it.

I am sure that a similar type preventative scan is available in most cities. I would highly recommend that folks take the time to do this.