Coronary Artery Disease

Heart disease is the number-one killer of men and women in the United States, and Beaumont now has the capability of detecting heart disease more precisely than ever before.

Diagnosing Coronary Artery Disease 

As the first site in Michigan with a dual source scanner, Beaumont doctors use the high-resolution coronary artery diagnostic evaluation to assess the function of your heart quickly and painlessly. And because it provides images so accurate, to view even the smallest arteries, these coronary artery disease diagnostic methods could eventually take the place of many invasive heart catheterizations.

Beaumont doctors diagnose coronary artery diseases with the newest testing processes, which take less than one minute, to create detailed images of the heart and chest as well as provide the calcium scoring that less advance testing offers.

Coronary Artery Disease Testing?

Beaumont doctors can now diagnose a patient with blocked coronary arteries that may cause a heart attack or other types of heart problems with a quick, noninvasive test called a coronary artery evaluation. This coronary artery disease diagnostic test can also be referred to as a Coronary CT Angiogram (CTA), CT of the Coronary Arteries, or 3D Cardiac CT Scan.

The computed tomography scan (CT scan) is similar to an x-ray, but produces clearer and more detailed images of the heart. During a Cardiac CT scan, the x-ray beam moves in a circle around the body. This allows for many different views of the same organ or structure, and provides much greater detail. While many images are taken during a CT scan, less radiation is received by the patient than during a single standard x-ray, in many cases. This state-of-the-art Cardiac CT scan technology allows doctors to view the heart and coronary arteries non-invasively.

Risk Factors of Coronary Artery Disease

You are most likely to benefit from this evaluation if you have at least two of the following risk factors of coronary artery disease:

  • Men and women aged 40 years and older
  • Family history of heart disease
  • Smoking habit
  • Diabetes
  • Limited exercise habits
  • Elevated calcium score
  • Blood tests that suggest you may have high cholesterol or coronary artery disease

What if I'm unsure about my risk factors of coronary artery disease?

If you are unsure about your risk factors of coronary artery disease, talk to your physician. If you do not have a Beaumont doctor, call our Physician Referral Service at 800-633-7377. We'll be happy to find you a doctor who is close to home, participates with your insurance plan and meets your specific needs.

How long do coronary artery diagnostic tests take?

This screening consists of a CT of the coronary arteries. A cardiac calcium-scoring test is available, but must be specifically requested by your physician. Each test takes very little time. Overall, the entire process should take around two hours. Please check-in at least one hour prior to your appointment time. The actual screening should last approximately one hour.

How is the coronary artery disease test performed?

This screening consists of a CT of the coronary arteries. A cardiac calcium-scoring test is available, but must be specifically requested by your physician. To perform the test, your heart may need to be controlled with medication, with a few exceptions. Once an IV is established and a nursing assessment is completed, you will enter the room for your examination. You will then receive an iodine injection through an IV in your arm, and your scan will be performed. This takes approximately 15 seconds.

What is the difference between coronary artery diagnosis and a cardiac calcium-scoring test?

The coronary artery evaluation is a more refined test than the cardiac calcium-scoring test. The coronary artery diagnostic evaluation is performed on a CT scanner that can detect physical blockages and their precise locations. A cardiac calcium-scoring test is performed with a different type of scanner and can only identify the presence of calcification in heart arteries, not where the blockages are located.

What if I'm allergic to iodine?

You are still eligible for this coronary artery diagnostic evaluation if you are allergic to iodine. You just need to be pre-medicated the day before your scan. Your personal physician can write you a prescription for the medication.

How do I get my test results?

A copy of your results will be sent to your personal physician. Please remember to request this when you check-in for your appointment. You will need a prescription for the exam to be performed.

What if the test results are abnormal?

Your physician will be notified that follow-up care is needed. Your physician should contact you with your results.

How much does the Cardiac CT scan cost?

Currently, this test is covered by Medicare for only specific indications. Other insurance carriers are beginning to cover this new test and you should verify coverage with your insurance carrier.

Having this scan as a screening test (with no clinical signs or symptoms of coronary artery disease) is not covered by insurance carriers. If you elect to have this test done as a screening tool for coronary artery disease, you may pay the fee by cash, personal check, VISA, MasterCard or Discover.

How do I schedule a Cardiac CT scan?

To schedule a coronary artery disease evaluation, call Beaumont's Appointment Center at 800-328-8542. Schedulers are available weekdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The scan is currently offered at Beaumont Hospital Royal Oak, Troy and Grosse Pointe. For additional locations, including medical centers, contact the Appointment Center.

What are the risks of having the screening tests?

The greatest potential risk of having a coronary artery evaluation is exposure to radiation that could lead to the development of cancer in the future. Although there is no evidence that this scan has produced malignant tumors in other patients, the risk of cancer has been linked to higher doses of radiation.

You have less than a 1% (0.12%) chance of developing cancer from this single coronary artery diagnostic evaluation. The amount of radiation you will receive from this scan is 9.7 times what an average American receives from natural, environmental causes in a year and is equivalent to approximately 1.5 times the radiation dose from an invasive diagnostic cardiac catheterization procedure.

While the benefit of this scan as a preventive exam has not been proven, it has been a highly effective method of diagnosing heart disease.