WELCOME to the ATRIAL SEPTAL DEFECT COMMUNITY: This Patient-To-Patient Community is for discussions relating to Atrial Septal Defect (ASD) which is a hole in the part of the septum that separates the atria (the upper chambers of the heart). This hole allows oxygen-rich blood from the left atrium to flow into the right atrium instead of flowing into the left ventricle as it should. This means that oxygen-rich blood gets pumped back to the lungs, where it has just been, instead of going to the body.
Coronary calcium scans are done in a hospital or outpatient office. The x-ray machine that’s used is called a computed tomography (CT) scanner.
The technician who operates the scanner will clean areas of your chest and apply small sticky patches called electrodes. The electrodes are attached to an EKG (electrocardiogram) monitor. The EKG measures the electrical activity of your heart during the scan. This makes it possible to take pictures of your heart when it’s relaxed, between beats.
The CT scanner is a large machine that has a hollow, circular tube in the center. You will lie on your back on a sliding table. The table can move up and down and goes inside the tunnel-like machine.
The table will slowly slide into the opening in the machine. Inside the scanner, an x-ray tube moves around your body to take pictures of your heart. You may be asked to hold your breath for 10 to 20 seconds while the pictures are taken. This prevents movement in the image.
During the test, the technician will be in a nearby room with the computer that controls the CT scanner. The technician can see you through a window and talk to you through an intercom system.
You may be given medicine to slow down a fast heart rate. This helps the machine take better pictures of your heart. The medicine will be given by mouth or injected into a vein.
A coronary calcium scan takes about 5 to 10 minutes. During the test, the machine makes clicking and whirring sounds as it takes pictures. It causes no discomfort, but the exam room may be chilly to keep the machine working properly.
If you become nervous in enclosed spaces, you may need to take medicine to stay calm. This isn’t a problem for most people, because your head will remain outside the opening in the machine.
Author/Source: National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute, Division of the National Institutes of Health [NIH]
Retrieved: June 2008