Electron Beam Computed Tomography (EBT) or Heart Scan is a technique for rapid non-invasive scanning of the heart using the latest X-ray technology. It is quick, accurate and painless and the radiation exposure is relatively small. The EBT Heart Scan can rapidly assess the heart and can identify the presence of any disease in its infancy.
What is so important about a EBT heart scan?
The EBT heart scan is an excellent tool to screen for coronary artery disease. The scan can identify the degree of coronary artery calcification, which is widely regarded as an indicator of heart health. The degree of calcium build up can be prevented when identified in the early stages of coronary disease.
What happens to the coronary arteries in heart disease?
The disease in the coronary artery usually starts with a build up of a fatty plaque on the walls of the vessel. As this plaque builds up, it narrows the coronary artery. The calcium also starts to deposit in the coronary vessel wall at the same time. Research shows that this calcium build up is seen much earlier on a EBT scan and can help one screen for the presence of coronary artery disease. The calcium deposits most likely occur years before the symptoms of coronary disease occur.
What is significance of coronary artery calcification?
Coronary artery calcification is a marker for coronary plaque and typically appears years before the development of symptoms of heart disease. The degree of calcification around the coronary vessels is a marker for coronary artery disease and the higher the score, the greater the disease. After the age of 40, most men and women do have some degree of calcification around their coronary vessels and does not always mean disease. It is the total score of calcification that is important.
What does EBT scanning involve?
EBT scanning is usually done at a doctor’s clinic or a radiology facility. Once one arrives at the suite, one changes into a suitable gown. There is no use of an IV or anesthesia. You will be asked to lie flat on a table and the electron beam scanner takes images of your heart, between beats. One is asked to hold the breath for a few seconds to prevent any motion artifacts. The images are then recreated by a computer and a 3-dimensional view of the heart is obtained. After the scan the individual may go home. A final report will be mailed to you within a few days of your test.
Is there any preparation required for a heart scan?
There is little or no preparation required, and the entire process should take less than an hour. The actual time in the CT scanner is 5 minutes.
Why is it important to have a EBT heart scan?
The EBT scan can detect the presence of any calcification build up on the coronary artery vessels. If this is discovered, then the physician may order a change in diet, exercise, and medications to lower fat. The EBT scanner can detect heart disease early so that heart attacks can be prevented and heart surgery can be avoided.
Who should undergo EBT heart scan?
There are no firm recommendations on who should undergo heart scan. Any of the following individuals who are at high risk for coronary artery disease will benefit from a screening EBT scan:
- individuals who smoke
- individuals who are over 50 years
- individual who have a strong family history of heart disease
- individuals who have elevated lipid levels
- individuals who have diabetes
- individuals who do not exercise
- individuals with high blood pressure
- obese individuals
Can a EBT scan tell how much coronary artery narrowing is present?
No, the EBT scan is designed to assess the presence of calcification around the coronary vessels. It does not give an accurate representation of the degree of blockage in the vessels. Another test called a coronary angiogram is required to determine the degree of coronary artery narrowing.
When are the results available?
An EBT heart scan takes minutes to complete and patients know the result within a matter of minutes.
What type of report does the EBT scan give?
A certified radiologist will examine the series of images obtained by the scanner and calculate the total amount of calcification (the "calcium score") present. From the information available, he will report the location and degree of calcification. If the EBT scan reveals calcium build up, the results will be discussed with you and your doctor. Your doctor will recommend the appropriate steps and treatment that you may require.
How much does a Heart Scan cost?
The average cost of a heart scan is about $2-300. Heart scans are not covered by insurance or Medicare. A doctor's referral is not required for a Heart Scan.