Heart attacks often occur without warning. A new imaging technology called Coronary Computed Tomography (a specialised type of X-ray test) is used to scan the heart in just minutes to detect deposits of cholesterol in the heart arteries that may lead to a heart attack. This is an out-patient procedure that takes 20-30 minutes. You will be requested not to eat or drink anything in the 4 hours before the scan.
Coronary CTA provides pictures of the coronary arteries, which supply blood to the heart muscle, in a non-invasive manner. It enables your cardiologist to look for narrowings, some of which cannot be detected by the more traditional exercise testing but which cause around three quarters of all heart attacks. Detecting these narrowings early is important as medications can be prescribed to prevent an impending heart attack. Based on the results from the CTA, your surgeon will order further tests to decide any course of treatment.
We use the latest generation, state-of-the-art Toshiba 64-Slice Coronary CTA scanner, which can simultaneously acquire 64 image slices of the heart in one minute, resulting in highly detailed images of the coronary arteries and the heart.
HOW IS CORONARY CTA PERFORMED?
A very small needle will be placed in the vein of your arm to administer the dye that will allow your vessels to show up on the imaging scan. If you are allergic to the iodine in the dye, you will be given medication to prevent an allergic reaction. You will also be given medication to temporarily slow your heart rate so that clearer images can be obtained. During the examination, X-rays pass through the body and onto detectors to produce the 64 “image slices” of the heart in a minute.
Your cardiologist will recommend CTA after weighing up the following risks:
- Allergic reaction to the dye
- Worsened kidney function in people with abnormal kidney function and/or diabetes caused by the dye
- Radiation exposure, which is similar to that of a conventional coronary angiogram
WHO IS SUITABLE FOR CORONARY CTA?
Your cardiologist may recommend this test for you if:
- you are at high risk of developing coronary artery disease due to risk factors such as smoking, high cholesterol levels, hypertension, diabetes or have a strong family history of heart disease.
- your treadmill stress test was unclear or inconclusive.
- your symptoms suggest underlying heart artery narrowing.