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Updated on October 20, 2020

Cardiac (Heart) Screening

Cardiovascular disease is the top killer in Malaysia accounting for 1/4 of all hospital deaths. 

How does Coronary Artery Disease happen?

Your heart is a muscle and it pumps blood to your lungs and the rest of your body to supply it with oxygen and nutrients. Your heart also needs a supply of blood and it gets this from your coronary arteries.  Coronary heart disease happens when cholesterol and other materials build up on the inner surface in your artery walls and form a plaque (also known as an atheroma).

This process of fat building up is called atherosclerosis. It narrows your artery and reduces the blood flow. Thus, the result is your heart muscle does not get all the oxygen it needs. This can damage your heart muscle and lead to a range of symptoms which can be serious.  Over time, an atheroma may rupture and a clot develops at the rupture site cutting off blood supply to heart muscle. This is called a myocardial infarction or commonly known as heart attack

What is a Heart Scan?

A heart scan or a coronary calcium scan uses computed tomography (CT) to check for the build up of calcium in plaque on the walls of the arteries of the heart also known as coronary arteries.  This test is used to check for potential narrowing of coronary arteries in an early stage and to determine how severe it is by providing a calcium score and help doctors in initiating preventing measures.

This non-invasive, painless and quick imaging test provide clues on possible disease of the coronary arteries by correlating the level of calcium deposition.  The amount of calcium detected provides a measure of how much plaque has accumulated and the data from the scan are used to calculate a score. When combined with other health information, the doctor may use the test score to refine a treatment plan for reducing the patient’s risk.

How to Prepare for Heart Scan

  • There is no special preparation needed for this test. However, patients need to avoid caffeine and smoking for 4 hours prior to the exam
  • Before the examination, patients need to change into a robe or a gown
  • Metal objects including jewellery, eyeglasses and hair clips which may affect the scan images, should be left at home or removed before the procedure
  • Patients also need to separate their hearing aids and removable dental work
  • Females patients will be asked to remove undergarment containing metal underwire
  • Female patients need to inform the technician if they are or could be pregnant

What happens Before and After the Heart Scan?

1. The technician will attach sensors called electrodes to the patient’s chest prior to the actual scan. The electrodes wires are connected to an electrocardiogram (ECG) and it will record the electrical activity of the subject’s heart on paper.

2. The ECG will start recording when the patient’s heart is in resting stage, which is the best time for the CT (computed tomography) scans to be taken. If the subject’s heart rate is 90 beats per minute or higher, they may be given a medicine to slow it down.

3. During the test, patients will lie on a movable table connected to a CT scanner. The table slides into a round opening of the machine and the scanner will move around the body.

4. The CT result doesn’t take long. The doctor will go over the results with the patient. Depending on what the images show, the doctor will advise of any lifestyle changes, treatments or procedures that need to be done.

5. If everything turns out fine, patient can drive home and continue with their daily activities without any worries.

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Disclaimer. TELEME blog posts contains general information about health conditions and treatments. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such. 

If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.

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