Heart Scans

Diagnostic Heart Screening

A CAT (Computerized Axial Tomographic) scan uses x-rays to do detailed images of internal body structures and in this case the arteries of your heart. In addition it can look at the heart itself to see if there are any abnormalities of the muscles, valves or the outer lining of the heart. A CAT scan is a noninvasive approach that can recognize early blockages within arteries of the heart and therefore may save lives.

How is it done?

A CAT scanner is a large circular xray machine that resembles a large donut with a table sliding within the hole. The patient lays on the table and the table slides within the camera as the camera spins around the patient. The camera is connected to a computer which reconstructs the images within minutes. In certain cases, an IV may be placed and thus, contrast can be used to better visualize certain internal body parts. You may feel a warm sensation throughout your body as the injection occurs but this will last for only a few seconds. In general, the entire procedure under the camera will only take a few minutes.

Why should I get a heart scan?

If you have a strong family history of heart disease, are a diabetic, have high blood pressure, smoke, or have high cholesterol or are overweight then we encourage you to discuss this screening test with your doctor.

Common Examples of Screening

In this quick test that lasts seconds no IV contrast is used. The amount of calcium in the arteries of the heart is detected and a score is given. When we say calcium in the heart we are referring to actual cholesterol plaques that have built up in your arteries. The earlier that these are detected the sooner that changes can be made in your diet and lifestyle to help prevent progression of these plaques.

Knowing your calcium score will give you an idea of how you compare to your peers and help your physician decide on an appropriate therapy. In general a calcium score of zero is associated with a low risk of significant heart blockages while a score of 400 or greater is associated with a much higher risk of significant blockages.

Prevention is the key to a long and happy life and therefore this simple test has become an increasingly valuable tool in the screening of patients who have low to intermediate risk of heart blockages.

Cardiac CTA (CT Angiogram)

In this CAT scan exam, an IV is placed in a vein and contrast is injected. The injection procedure lasts several minutes during which you may feel a warm sensation. This sensation will last shortly and is normal.

The CAT scan reconstructs images of your heart via computer, which, unlike the Calcium score will provide more detailed images of the cross section of the arteries of your heart. This will give your physician actual degrees of obstruction on the arteries of your heart.

When CTA images are compared to the invasive cardiac catheterization done at the hospital, the correlation is exact in over 90% of the cases. Therefore when used in appropriate circumstances it may obviate the need for invasive cardiac catheterization.


Patients should always check with their physician and the CAT scan department the days prior to the exam for any special preparation.

Usually eating or drinking is not permitted for several hours prior to the exam -except for small amounts of clear liquids excluding caffeine-.Patients may take their regular medication.

While adapting your schedule for the exam, please remember that although the actual exam takes only 30 seconds, the preparation at the CT center can be 30min or more. Normally a patient may resume normal activities after the exam. However, please confirm with the CT department for any special instructions.

Heart Scan services currently offered in:

Miami, FL

New York, NY

Hartford, CT

Chicago, IL

See complete list of locations