Print    Email
Decrease (-) Restore Default Increase (+) Text Sizes

Heart Center

Cardiac Calcium Scoring

Know Your Risk for a Heart Attack

Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in the United States, but most don't know they have it until it is already advanced.

Before symptoms develop, calcified plaque could be building in the arteries, causing damage and blocking the smooth flow of blood.  Knowing whether you have this build-up can alert you to changes needed to reverse the damage and lower your risk.


Cardiac Calcium Scoring Provides Early Detection

NHRMC offers a non-invasive procedure called Cardiac Calcium Scoring to look inside coronary arteries and detect the build-up of calcified plaque.  The risks are analyzed to determine a risk score based on the extent and severity of the plaque build-up.

Preparing for Your Procedure

You should avoid caffeine and cigarettes four hours prior to the study.

Take blood pressure medications as usual with water.

Inform the technologist if you have a pacemaker.

Women should inform their physician and technologist if there is any possibility they could be pregnant.

What to Expect

Cardiac calcium scoring uses a non-invasive CT scan that is painless and takes only a few minutes.  For the test, you will be positioned on the CT table.  A registered technologist will attach cardiac electrodes that monitor your heart rate.  You will be asked to bring your arms above your head and hold your breath for a few seconds while the scan is done. 

Getting Results

Once the scan is complete, it is reviewed by a board certified radiologist, who scores each study based on the amount of calcified plaque seen in the coronary arteries. 

A comprehensive report, like the sample here, will be mailed to you and your referring physician.  Together, you can review the results and discuss any changes or treatments you may need.

The extent of your coronary artery disease (CAD) is graded according to your calcium score.

Calcium Score Presence of CAD
0 No evidence of plaque.  Your risk of a heart attack is very low.
1-10 A small amount of plaque is noted. Your risk of a heart attack is low, But it's important to improve your diet, get regular exercise and/or quit smoking.
11-100 Plaque is present, which means you have coronary artery disease, but only mild hardening in the coronary arteries.  Your risk for heart attack is moderate.  Talk with your physician about this result.
101-400 Plaque is present in a moderate amount. You have coronary artery disease and plaque may be blocking an artery.  Your risk for heart attack is moderate to high.  Your physician may recommend additional testing.
Over 400 Plaque is extensive, which means there is more than a 90 percent change that plaque is blocking one or your coronary arteries.  Your risk for heart attack is high.  Your physician will recommend additional testing.



Cardiac calcium scoring is available at New Hanover Regional Medical Center for only $100, due at the time of service.  The fee is not covered by insurance, including Medicare. 

Major Risk Factors for Coronary Artery Disease

Talk with your physician about a Cardiac Calcium Scoring Study if you have one of the following risk factors.

  • Abnormally high blood cholesterol levels
  • Family history of heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Overweight or obese
  • Physically inactive

To Schedule Your Appointment

If you and your physician decide you are a good candidate for calcium scoring, please call today to make an appointment. A physician referral for the test is required prior to scheduling. Once you have the referral, contact our scheduling office at 910.667.8777 to make your appointment.


NHRMC Heart Center

New Hanover Regional Medical Center map
2131 S. 17th Street
Wilmington, NC 28401

The NHRMC Heart Center entrance has moved. View the Heart Center entrance map. 

The region's only comprehensive Heart Center
Emergency treatment for heart attack patients twice as fast as national average
Emergency Chest Pain Center
Advanced procedures, from minimally invasive to beating heart bypass surgery
More than 30 board-certified cardiologists
12,000 prodedures a year
80 inpatient cardiac specialty beds
30 cardiac critical care beds
2131 S. 17th Street, Wilmington, NC 28401  |  910.343.7000