A Cardiac CT angiography is a commonly performed test to look at the heart arteries in order to rule out or identify blockages inpatients who complain of having chest pains. Sometimes it is also requested to collect information about the heart valves and the big arteries like the aorta or lung arteries.
It is a safe and simple test to have that takes usually less then 10 minutes.
Patients are usually seen in a specialist clinic before the need for a heart CT scan. In the clinic things will be considered including your symptoms and other factors like diabetes, smoking, having high blood pressure and cholesterol. Once it has been agreed you should have a Cardiac CT scan, you will be given a prescription to help regulate your heart rate (pulse) at the time of the scan. These are usually medications that slightly slow down your heart rate with no major side effects. This medication is to be taken the day before and the day of your CT scan.
If you are already taking heart rate lowering medication and your resting heart rate is below 60 beats per minute, you can continue with your regular medication. Your GP or Consultant will discuss whether you need to alter your medications before your CT scan.
You should receive an information leaflet which explains how the CT scan works and what to do in order to prepare for the scan. It is important that you do not eat for three hours before your scan is due to take place, caffeinated drinks such as tea and coffee as well as alcohol should be avoided and please try to do as little exercise as possible on the day of your scan. This is to help keep your heart rate at a calm and slow pace at the time of your scan.
On the day of your scan a radiographer will ask you some questions and go through some safety checks with you. It is important that you let them know if you suffer with asthma, diabetes, have any allergies or kidney problems.
Please watch the following short video to understand more about what will happen during your Cardiac CT scan.
Towards the end of the test, you will be given a Glyceryl Trinitrate (GTN) spray under your tongue to help make your heart arteries expand so that a more accurate image can be taken. You may find that you experience a mild headache following this GTN spray, it should pass after a few minutes, however taking paracetamol can also help.
After the scan we will gently seat you up and ask you to stay in the waiting room for 15-20 minutes just to check everything is okay and you are not experiencing any side effects. If everything is fine we will remove the cannula and let you go home.
It takes a couple of days for the reports to be generated and these will be sent to your referral doctor or your GP who will be in contact to discuss the results.