A cardiac computerized tomography (CT) is a non-invasive, pain-free test that is used to help give a clear view of how far your coronary heart disease has progressed. A CT uses x-rays of your heart to create a high-resolution image of your heart and the blood vessels, or coronary arteries, that supply it.
Dr. Nadar and the team at Capital Area Cardiovascular Associates use cardiac CT scans to evaluate coronary artery disease and develop and treatment plan. For a comprehensive view of your overall heart health and risk factors, schedule a consultation today.
How Does a CT Work?
Unlike traditional x-rays which use a fixed tube, CT scanners rotate 360 degrees around a patient that is laying inside a donut-shaped structure called a gantry. The scanner shoots narrow beams of x-rays through the patient which are then picked up by digital x-ray detectors and sent to a computer.
The CT uses mathematical calculations to create an image of the heart and surrounding blood vessels. A heart CT scan can be performed much faster than a cardiac catheterization with less discomfort and risk. CTs have proven to rule out significant narrowing of the arteries as well as determine if "soft plaque" is present that may lead to future heart problems including a heart attack.
How to Prepare for a Cardiac CT
If you are scheduled for a CT scan, Dr. Nadar will review how to best prepare for the test during your visit to the office. In general, here is how to prepare for a CT scan:
- Medications: You can continue taking most medications before your CT scan, aside from prescriptions that may interfere with nitroglycerin. We use a nitroglycerin patch to help open your blood vessels to see any blockages. Be sure to inform Dr. Nadar of any medicine you are taking during your office visit.
- Eating & Drinking: Do not eat solid foods for two hours before your appointment. Drink plenty of water or clear non-caffeinated liquids such as clear broth or decaf tea. Avoid caffeine the day of your appointment.
- Diabetes: Drink extra fruit juice to account for the lack of food prior to your scan. You may continue taking your diabetes medications before your appointment.
- Clothing: Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing that is easy to change in to and out of. During your scan you will wear hospital clothing.
If you are scheduled for a cardiac CT through our office and have specific questions about how to prepare, call our Camp Hill or Newport office at 223.225.1120.
What to Expect During a Heart CT Scan
During your heart CT scan, you may be given a beta-blocker that will help to slow your heart rate. You will have electrodes attached to your chest to monitor your heart rate and may also receive a contrast dye injection that allows us to see the images of your coronary arteries more clearly.
During the actual scan itself, you will be asked to stay still and hold your breath for a short time. The scan takes around 15 minutes and the total time including preparation may be close to one hour.
Cardiac CT scans are typically fairly easy for patients to undergo, are non-invasive, and help Dr. Nadar understand the extent of your cardiac disease.