Benefits vs Risks of a Cardiac CT

Cardiac CT Benefits

  • Cardiac CT for calcium scoring is a convenient and noninvasive way of evaluating whether you may be at increased risk for a heart attack.
  • The exam takes little time, causes no pain, and does not require injection of contrast material.
  • No radiation remains in a patient's body after a CT examination.
  • X-rays used in CT scans usually have no side effects.

Cardiac CT Risks

  • There is always a slight chance of cancer from excessive exposure to radiation. However, the benefit of an accurate diagnosis far outweighs the risk.
  • The effective radiation dose from this procedure is about the same as the average person receives from background radiation in eight months. Newer scanners may even use less radiation.
  • Women should always inform their doctor and CT technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant.
  • CT scanning is, in general, not recommended for pregnant women unless medically necessary because of potential risk to the baby.
  • A high calcium score may sometimes be followed by other diagnostic tests for heart disease, which may not be necessary and might cause side effects.