A coronary calcium scan looks for specks of calcium (called calcifications) in the walls of the coronary arteries. Calcifications are an early sign of CHD. The test can show whether you're at increased risk for a heart attack or other heart problems before other signs and symptoms occur.
Two machines can show calcium in the coronary arteries—electron beam computed tomography (EBCT) and multidetector computed tomography (MDCT). Both use an x-ray machine to make detailed pictures of your heart. Doctors study the pictures to see whether you're at risk for heart problems in the next 2 to 10 years.
A coronary calcium scan is simple and easy for the patient, who lies quietly in the scanner machine for about 10 minutes. The scanner takes pictures of the heart that show whether the coronary arteries have calcifications.