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ST. LUKE'S HOSPITAL • COLUMBUS, NC • (828) 894-3311

WEEKEND VISITORS use Emergency Department Entrance at the rear of the hospital. Learn More


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A Calcium Score Test

Ten minutes that can save your life

Many people have no idea they are about to have a heart attack or a stroke until it happens; for some, that unexpected event will kill them. But what if there was a quick, painless, and affordable test that could predict your likelihood of having a cardiac event?


The test is ideal for adults between ages 40 and 70 who are at increased risk for heart disease but don't have symptoms.

Our GE Revolution Elite CT is the best-in-class computed tomography platform and is top-rated worldwide. One test that it excels at is the heart scan (calcium score test). The heart scan is a CT scan that detects the amount of calcium in your coronary arteries. The value of the screening is that it helps to determine if you need preventative treatment to ward off a heart attack or stroke. This test at St. Luke's provides much greater detail and accuracy and is most helpful in guiding treatment for people with a low to moderate risk of heart disease. In less than two seconds, our scanner takes two hundred-fifty multi-slices that combine to form sixty-four images.

Gradually developing, plaque comprises fats, calcium, cholesterol, and other elements in the blood. In advanced stages, these deposits restrict oxygen-rich blood from reaching the heart; worse, they can burst and trigger a blood clot. By measuring calcified plaque, our cardiologist can identify possible coronary artery disease before you have signs and symptoms.


In addition to the uncompromised image quality, our scanner is a "low-dose" CT, providing about the same amount of radiation you'll receive naturally in a year. You'll lie on your back on a movable table, and a technician will attach electrodes to your chest, which connect to a recording instrument that coordinates the X-ray timing between heartbeats. The setup for the test takes about five to seven minutes, and the actual scan lasts less than two seconds! And best of all, you can return to normal activities immediately after the test.


You will receive an Agatston score reflecting the total calcium deposit area and density. If no calcium is detected, you'll receive a score of zero, suggesting a low risk of a future heart attack. A score of one hundred to three hundred indicates a high risk of a heart attack over the next five years. Any score over three hundred indicates severe disease and risk of a cardiac event. In addition to the Agatson score, you will receive a percentile score to show how you compare with others of your age and gender.

With the heart scan results, our doctor will review them to determine a treatment plan—medication or lifestyle changes—to reduce your risk of heart-related issues. It's essential to know that the result of a heart scan isn't a single predictor of your overall heart disease. The information from the scan is just one part of your health history and may require additional consideration.

Please discuss this test with your primary care provider to determine if it may be valuable to managing your health. The exam is offered for $99, as most insurance does not cover it.


Don't delay; limited free exams are available on a first-come basis.

St. Luke's offers a FREE heart scan to those who qualify through a grant from the Carolina Foothills Foundation. To qualify, you must live in Polk or Rutherford Counties and have NOT had a heart attack, heart stent, or coronary bypass surgery. It's that simple. Your primary care provider should send the hospital an order for the exam and inform the hospital scheduler that you qualify for the free exam.


• Family history of heart disease
• Use tobacco products now or in the past
• History of high cholesterol, diabetes, or high blood pressure
• Are overweight (a body mass index (BMI) higher than 25
• Sedentary lifestyle
• If younger than 40 years old and high cholesterol runs in your family (familial hypercholesterolemia), your provider may consider calcium score testing.


• Pregnant women where the CT scan could harm the fetus
• Those diagnosed with coronary artery disease
• Those who've had a heart attack, a heart stent, or coronary bypass surgery (previous tests or procedures show the heart arteries)