- Plaque that is not hard (soft plaque) can't be found with a coronary calcium scan. Soft plaque is the earliest form of damage to the arteries of the heart. If you have soft plaque in your arteries, the test may give normal results, but this is a false-negative result. The buildup of soft plaque can also cause a heart attack.
- Coronary calcium scans are not needed very often, because a physical exam and other tests can give information about your heart. This test is not advised for routine screening for coronary artery disease.
- If your coronary calcium scan shows that you have a high chance of having heart disease, you can take steps to lower your chance. Eat better, quit smoking and get more exercise. These are the same steps your doctor would recommend after looking at your health history, your physical health and any lab tests, such as a cholesterol test. If you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, talk to your doctor about your treatment choices.
- It is possible to have false-positive test results. This means that the test shows a high chance of blockage in the arteries of the heart when it is not true. People with a low chance of heart disease are most likely to have a false-positive test.
- Coronary calcium scans may not be covered by all health insurance plans.
- Coronary calcium scans may not be available in some areas of the United States, such as in small towns.
- Sometimes doctors automatically schedule routine tests because they think that's what patients expect. But experts say that routine heart tests can be a waste of time and money. To learn more, see Heart Tests: When Do You Need Them?
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