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Cardiac testing

Cardiac calcium score screening/test

A calcium (coronary) score screening/test is a CT scan of the heart that detects calcium build-up in the coronary arteries. It is available for $60, and no insurance is needed.

What is a calcium scoring scan?

A calcium scoring scan is a form of the familiar computed tomography (CT) scan, which captures cross-sectional images of the heart’s arteries.

What does the screening look for?

This unique CT technology can detect calcium deposits in the coronary arteries. Calcium buildup can narrow your arteries and increase your risk of heart disease.

What are the benefits of getting screened?

  • Less expense: Participating in this screening could reduce the need for other, more expensive and invasive tests.
  • Early diagnosis: A calcium scoring scan may show that you are at a higher risk of having a heart attack or other problems before you have any obvious symptoms of heart disease.
  • Prevention: If your scan shows a small amount of calcium, you can work with a cardiologist to determine the best heart disease prevention plan for you.

What happens if calcium is found?

The calcium scoring scan will provide you with a number (or score) that relates to the amount of calcium deposits seen in your heart’s arteries. The higher the score, the more extensive the accumulation of plaque in your arteries.

Calcium score guide

  • 0: The scan is not picking up any calcium deposits at this time.
  • 1-100: Speak to your primary-care physician about heart disease prevention.
  • 100-499: Speak to a cardiologist about heart disease prevention and any additional treatment needed.
  • 500 or higher: You have significant calcium build-up and should seek care from a cardiologist as soon as possible.

If my screening was less than 100, do I still need to worry about my heart?

If you are considered high risk, then yes. Those in a high-risk group include:

  • Family history of coronary artery disease.
  • Over 40 years of age.
  • Current or former smokers.
  • History of high cholesterol, diabetes or high blood pressure.
  • Overweight.
  • Inactive lifestyle.

Who should not receive this exam?

This exam is not recommended for patients who fit the following criteria:

  • Pregnant.
  • Known coronary artery disease (have had a heart attack, angioplasty/stent or bypass surgery).
  • Metallic objects in the heart (mechanical heart valves, pacemaker wires, stents, etc.).
  • Claustrophobic.

Call 816.792.7016 to schedule a screening.

Diagnostic testing

Liberty Hospital's diagnostic testing services are available 24/7. Diagnostic tests and procedures available include:

  • Echocardiograms: These are used to detect abnormalities of the chambers and heart valves, murmurs, wall motion of the ventricle and possibly fluid surrounding the heart.
  • Stress echoes: A stress echocardiogram is usually done to rule out coronary artery disease.
  • Dobutamine stress echo: This test is used to evaluate coronary artery disease in patients who are unable to exercise on a treadmill.
  • Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE): This test is generally ordered for patients with prosthetic valves, if there is a question of the valves' function, or to rule out stroke. In some patients with unexplained fevers, this test would be ordered to visualize the heart valves.
  • Nuclear stress testing: This test helps determine how the heart works during physical activity. As your body works during any physical exertion, it requires more oxygen and energy. To meet this demand, the heart beats faster and harder. The stress test shows if your heart receives enough blood from its own arteries to work harder, safely.
  • EKGs: This test is used as a screening tool in diagnosing cardiac electrical abnormalities, such as a heart attack. An EKG records the electrical activity of the heart over time.
  • Holter monitors: This is a small portable device, used for continuously monitoring the electrical activity of the heart for 24 hours or more. Its extended recording period is sometimes useful for observing occasional cardiac arrhythmias that would be difficult to identify in a shorter period of time. Liberty Hospital offers 24-hour and 48-hour monitors.
Liberty Hospital's Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory is one of the area's quickest at assessing and treating individuals experiencing heart attack symptoms.

Door-to-balloon time is the amount of time lapsed from when a patient enters the hospital's doors to the re-establishment of blood flow to the heart using primary coronary intervention. The American Heart Association's recommended door-to-balloon time is 90 minutes or less. For patients experiencing a life-threatening type of heart attack called an ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), those precious minutes could literally mean the difference between life and death.

Cardiac cath labs

Our two state-of-the-art cardiac cath labs are:

  • Equipped with flat-plane, high-resolution digital imaging systems.
  • Interventional cardiologists experienced at performing radial artery angioplasty.

This is a relatively new approach to cardiac cath and angioplasty. The physician uses the patient's radial artery in the wrist to insert the catheter and advance it to the heart, versus the more traditional approach using the femoral artery in the groin.

Further validation of the hospital's performance came when it was named one of only 164 hospitals nationwide to receive the American College of Cardiology Foundation's NCDR ACTION Registry–GWTG Platinum Performance Achievement Award.

Other advanced procedures

Our cardiology services department not only performs catheterizations and coronary interventions in the labs, but they also implant pacemakers and automatic implantable cardiac defibrillators. These patients are then followed in the hospital's pacemaker clinic.