Early Heart Disease Detection and Screenings

Heart Screenings

  • Blood pressure – Starting in your early twenties, your blood pressure should be checked at each visit or at least once every two years. 
  • Weight and body mass measurement – This measurement should be done at regular visits. If you have a high body mass index (BMI), you should also be having your waist circumference measured.
  • Lifestyle consultation – Your diet, habits and physical activity should be discussed at each visit, especially if you exhibit risk factors such as smoking, obesity or high cholesterol.  
  • Cholesterol – For those with average risks, a test every four to six years starting in your early twenties is ideal. If you have an elevated risk, you may need more frequent screenings. Consult with your primary care physician or nurse practitioner.
  • Blood glucose test  Starting around the age of 45, you should have a blood draw to test glucose levels at least every three years. This can help assess your risk of insulin resistance, pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes.

If you are a man and over age 40 or a woman and over age 45, you may have one or more risk factors for heart disease, even if you are the picture of health. Family history, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and diabetes are all factors leading to a good reason to get a CT heart calcium scoring exam.

CT Heart Calcium Scoring Exam

  • The coronary arteries supply blood to the heart and normally do not contain calcium or plaque. Calcium in the arteries is a sign of coronary artery disease.
  • Using a high speed, low dose CT scanner, we look inside the heart, on the walls of the arteries to check for buildup of calcium.
  • The calcium score measures the amount of build up which is an indication of heart disease and helps determine your risk of heart disease.
  • The best thing about this test is there is no prep required to take it.
  • This test is not normally covered by insurance plans, so you will have to pay out of pocket costs for this exam. The cost is approximately $100.
  • Results of the test will be sent to you and your physician/nurse practitioner so you can talk about future actions.

What Do the Calcium Scores Mean?

  • Calcium score of 101-400 means a larger amount of plaque is present and your chance of having a heart attack is moderate to high. 
  • Calcium score of 1-100 means a minimal or mild amount of plaque is present. 
  • Calcium score of zero means there is a high probability that you have little or no hard plaque in your arteries.

Benefits of the CT Calcium Scoring Exam

  • One of the most advanced methods available to determine heart disease in its earliest stages.
  • A calcium scoring is a convenient and noninvasive way of evaluating your coronary arteries.
  • The test takes little time and causes no pain.
  • The exam does not require any injections.
  • Measuring the calcified plaque can be a helpful tool for your doctor. In conjunction with other information it can determine your risk of a future heart attack.

Schedule a CT Calcium Score Exam at one of the Following Locations – no referral needed

  • Penrose-St. Francis Health Services, Colorado Springs: 719-776-8010
  • Colorado Springs Imaging: 719-260-6500

Everyday Prevention

No matter what your age, you can make lifestyle choices that will lower your risk of heart disease and help prevent heart attack and stroke.

  • Eat healthy  A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole-grains and lean meats can make a big difference in blood pressure, cholesterol levels and weight.
  • Exercise – According to the American Heart Association, 30 minutes of physical activity five or more days a week can help lower your blood pressure, cholesterol and weight. Access to a fitness center is paramount. If finances are an issue, try the YMCA which has income adjusted rates. 
  • Know your numbers – Blood pressure and cholesterol numbers are key indicators of your heart health. Regular screenings with your primary care doctor can help you determine if you need to make lifestyle changes to lower your risks.
  • Stop smoking – Smoking not only increases your risk of heart attack and stroke, but also significantly reduces your ability to recover from a cardiac event or stroke when one occurs. To get help quitting smoking, call the Colorado QuitLine (1-800-784-8669) or click here. This is an excellent source to assist with tobacco addiction which causes heart disease. The site offers free personalized phone coaching, free patches or gum, an interactive website and text messaging support.