Chest CT Scan for Your Heart: Who Benefits Most
It’s time for your annual physical. Just like every other visit, your primary care provider measures your height and weight, takes your blood pressure and orders routine tests on a small blood sample. You talk about changes in your health and how lifestyle changes could maintain your health in the future. But this time, your doctor recommends you obtain a chest CT scan of your heart.
You know your heart is important. You’ve heard of CT scans. Why do you need a chest CT? Some people never need this scan, but those who benefit most are people who want to learn more about their heart disease risk. A chest CT can let you know if you need to make lifestyle changes to protect your heart.
Why does a doctor order a chest CT scan?
As with any CT scan, a chest CT scan gives your doctor a look inside your chest. Your doctor may order this scan to help diagnose several cardiac issues. These include:
- Blocked arteries that lead to heart attack and heart disease
- Cardiac tumors or other masses inside the heart
- Congenital heart problems that have been present since birth
- Heart valve issues that affect blood flow
- Problems that cause the heart to struggle to pump blood through the body
Has your doctor ordered an imaging study for any of these heart concerns? Find a Touchstone Medical Imaging center near you to schedule your prescribed chest CT scan today.
What does a chest CT scan show?
A CT scan of the chest shows the inner workings of your chest. When focused on the heart, it shows any cardiac problems that are present.
It does this by taking cross-sectional images of your heart and the blood vessels that run to and through it. These images can be combined into a three-dimensional image. This gives your doctor a clear picture of what’s going on in and around your heart. The scan helps your doctor pinpoint troubling areas and diagnose heart disease.
Recent research has found that CT scans are more likely to catch potential heart disease than other diagnostic tools. Once caught, heart disease can be managed with lifestyle changes, medication or surgery.
How long does a chest CT scan take?
Undergoing a CT scan of the heart is a simple procedure. You lie on your back and the CT scanner does the rest. As the CT scanner takes images, you’ll hold your breath for short periods.
Depending on the purpose of your scan, the technologist may inject a contrast dye beforehand. This helps certain trouble areas show up clearer on the CT scan results. The technologist will ask you about your allergies before administrating a contrast agent. Some people may experience a metallic taste from the agent.
With or without contrast dye, your chest CT scan takes 10–20 minutes, and you’re exposed to a very limited amount of radiation. If your scan involves contrast dye, you may be asked not to eat or drink for a few hours before the scan. If no contrast will be used, you will have no restrictions before your chest CT scan.
Does your doctor suspect you’re at risk for heart disease? Don’t let heart disease catch you off guard. With your doctor’s order, find a Touchstone Medical Imaging center near you to schedule your chest CT scan today.