EBT Heart Scan: FAQ

What is coronary artery disease?

Coronary artery disease refers to a narrowing of the coronary arteries, usually by a build-up of plaque on the walls, which decreases the amount of blood that can flow through them to supply the heart muscle. It is the number one cause of death of both men and women in the United States, causing 43% of all deaths. One out of every four Americans suffers from coronary artery disease that is responsible for 1.5 million heart attacks annually. For over 100,000 people each year, the first, last and only symptom of coronary artery disease is a fatal heart attack.

What is a heart attack?

The heart is a muscle that pumps oxygen-supplying blood throughout the body. The heart muscle itself is supplied with oxygen by the coronary arteries – four main arteries that surround the heart so that every part of it is constantly supplied with life sustaining, oxygenated blood. If any of these arteries becomes blocked, a section of the heart will be deprived of oxygen. If the arterial blockage is short, a person will experience a period of ischemia (a lack of oxygen to the heart tissues), which is manifested by chest pain or angina. If the blockage is not removed quickly, the affected heart muscle cells will die. This is a heart attack or myocardial infarction, or MI as physicians refer to it.

What is the significance of coronary artery calcium?

Calcium deposits develop in the coronary arteries along with the build-up of fatty streaks in the process of plaque formation or atherosclerosis. As the developing plaque builds up and hardens, the artery becomes progressively narrowed and the flow of blood through the artery is increasingly restricted. In the worst-case scenario, the plaque ruptures causing complete arterial occlusion leading to a heart attack. Coronary artery calcium is a significant marker for atherosclerosis. The early detection of coronary calcium allows for the early detection of coronary artery disease, which enables patients to make changes in their modifiable risk factors in order to stop, stabilize and perhaps even reverse the plaque formation process.

How does EBT work?

By focusing, then accelerating an electron beam and channeling it precisely, EBT scanning produces images of your organs at 1/20th of a second — much faster than traditional CT scanners, MRI scanners, or other imaging machines. Because the heart is in constant motion only the fastest possible technology can capture a clear image of the coronary arteries. For other organs such as the colon, the speed or the machine decreases the length of the test and the amount of radiation the patient receives.

What is the EBT Calcium Score?

The EBT Calcium Score is a measure of the amount of calcium located around the coronary arteries. Healthy coronary arteries are free of plaque and should have a score of zero (no calcium seen).
A positive test means: Calcium deposits were found around the coronary arteries indicating at least some degree of coronary artery disease. The amount of calcium is related to the amount of disease, and would guide your doctor in recommending appropriate treatment, including diet, medication or further testing.
A negative test means: No calcium deposits were seen so you probably don’t have any coronary disease and your risk of heart attack is very low. You still should work on any modifiable risk factors (such as diet, exercise and smoking), and we recommend a repeat scan in 5 years, but for now you can relax!

Who should have a scan?

All men over 35 and women over 45 years of age should undergo EBT scanning. Don’t be fooled by appearances. Every day, seemingly healthy individuals suffer debilitating or fatal heart attacks while their cholesterol was low, while they maintained a relatively healthy diet and exercise program and while they passed annual physical exams successfully. We strongly encourage you to consider earlier scanning if you have one or more of the following risk factors: a family history of early heart disease, diabetes, elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity. current or prior tobacco usage, or a history of prolonged exposure to second hand smoke. The fact is, only EBT Technology can successfully find the early warning signs of heart disease while it is at it’s most treatable stage.

Is there any discomfort?

None at all. You stay fully clothed and the entire scan takes only a few minutes. There are no shots, no dyes to drink and no medications to take. It isn’t even claustrophobic. You will simply lie on your back and when asked, you will hold your breath for a few seconds at a time. In fact one of the first questions most people ask after their scan is: “Is that it”?

I don't want to know if something is wrong.

Actually you do. Heart disease is extremely treatable and reversible. In fact, when detected early enough, most patients can be treated with medications and lifestyle changes. One of the goals behind EBT scanning is to detect heart disease early so that heart attacks, angioplasty or heart surgery can be avoided.

I feel fine. Why should I be scanned?

Each year, more than 100,000 seemingly healthy Americans die suddenly from coronary heart disease with no warning at all. Many of these individuals might still be alive had they known about plaque or calcium deposits within their arteries, and taken advantage of early prevention and detection techniques.

Is EBT safe?

Yes, there are hundreds of papers from leading researchers outlining the accuracy and safety of EBT Scanning. EBT is non-magnetic which makes it safe not only for the general public, but also for those who have had stents, angioplasty, pacemakers and other procedures in the past. Like any imaging system, EBT does emit some radiation but the amount is comparable to that you would receive during a plane trip from New York to Los Angeles. In short, EBT is extremely safe.

I just had a stress test. Do I still need a heart scan?

Anyone who has ever undergone a stress test or treadmill test, as part of their annual physical should know something.. those tests will detect heart disease once you suffer from a blockage of greater than 85% within your arteries. That’s right, these exams are designed to indicate who does and does not need angioplasty or surgery. If you can wait until you’ve had a heart attack, a stroke, need heart surgery or angioplasty, then you don’t need an EBT scan. Most of us prefer to find out before then. When detected early, heart disease can be treated with simple lifestyle changes and medications. The fact is, no other technology can match EBT when it comes to the detection of heart disease at its earliest stage.

When will I see my results?

Right away. You will see your results during your scanning visit. Most patients are amazed to look at the monitor and truly see inside themselves.

What about blood tests like C-Reactive Protein or Homocysteine levels? Can't they tell if I have heart disease?

No blood test can tell you if you have coronary artery disease. Blood tests can only help establish your risk for developing coronary artery disease. There are many people with high levels of cholesterol, C-Reactive Protein (CRP) or Homocysteine that do not have coronary artery disease. At the same time, it is very common to develop coronary disease when none of these blood tests are elevated. Relying solely on blood test results would require treating a lot of people without coronary artery disease who do not need to be treated and still missing a lot of cases where heart attacks could have been prevented. The EBT heart scan looks directly at your coronary arteries to see if there is problem or not. Then, treatment can be based on what is actually going on in your arteries instead of a statistical “risk”.

Do I need to be referred by a physician?

Not at all. While many physicians do refer patients to EBT centers, most patients at the present time utilize EBT as an elective procedure. They hear ads or learn about EBT from friends and wish to come in themselves confidentially.

Will insurance pay for my exam?

Unfortunately, at this time most health insurers have decided that the EBT Heart Scan is a screening exam, and since most medical insurance policies do not cover the cost of preventative health screening examinations in otherwise healthy adults, these policies will not reimburse the cost of the EBT Heart Scan. The EBT Heart Scan is not a Medicare benefit at this time. We are hopeful that in time, the health insurance industry will come to understand and value the preventative services we are now able to provide. We believe that the early detection of heart disease can lead to earlier, more effective treatments and longer, healthier lives.If you have risk factors for heart disease or if your doctor is planning on using this test to make a diagnostic decision or to guide therapy, ask your doctor for both a referral for this test and if your managed care company has an “individual consideration for coverage” request form for submission to your insurance carrier or managed care company. It is much more likely that your health insurer will consider covering this procedure when you have an appropriate referral from your physician. To assist your doctor in completing an individual consideration for coverage request form for you, we have developed a form you can print out and give to your doctor: “Request for Individual Consideration for Coverage: EBT Coronary Calcium Exam”. Your doctor will likely be of more help if he/she does not have to complete a time-consuming form for you. This form will make it easier for your doctor and may improve your chances for obtaining coverage. You can then submit it to your carrier for consideration. It is your responsibility to check with your health insurer before scheduling your exam if you believe that your test might be covered by your policy. Again, the EBT heart scan is not a Medicare benefit at this time.

As of January 2005, no CPT procedure code has yet been assigned by the AMA for Electron Beam Tomography of the heart for coronary calcification scoring. When billing this procedure, we are currently using the CPT procedure code 76499 (unlisted radiological procedure) and including a copy of the report. It is always helpful to contact your carrier in advance of your test to find out under what circumstances the EBT heart scan is covered, if at all. Advanced Body Scan of Newport is currently a Medicare participating provider but we are not a network for any other health plan.

Are my test results kept confidential?

Absolutely, all test results are keep strictly confidential and will not be released to any third party without your written request. A copy of our Privacy Practices is available for review: Privacy Practices of Advanced Body Scan of Newport.

Is the Coronary Calcium Scan a substitute for an Angiogram?

A coronary artery scan is not a substitute or replacement for an angiogram. A coronary artery heart scan is used for the early detection of coronary artery disease while the angiogram is needed to make an anatomical examination of the coronary arteries to define the amount of narrowing in each coronary artery. Due to its expense, invasiveness and associated risk, the coronary angiogram is not suitable as a screening test. Advanced Body Scan of Newport also offers the non-invasive Electron Beam Coronary Angiogram. If you are currently being considered for a coronary angiogram, this test may be applicable to your situation. Ask us or your doctor if you think you are a candidate for a non-invasive electron beam CT coronary angiogram.

Who should consider getting a EBT Heart Scan?

  • Men over age 35
  • Women over age 45
  • Younger age if there is a history of premature heart disease in the family.
  • Current or Former Smoker
  • Diabetic
  • Elevated Cholesterol
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Overweight

All individuals being considered for conventional coronary angiography as a result of either symptoms (chest pain or angina) or positive or inconclusive exercise (treadmill) testing.

Individuals who have had bypass surgery, angioplasty or atherectomy, and need a re-evaluation of the condition of the revascularization(s) (bypass graft or stent patency).

Individuals who have had bypass surgery, angioplasty or atherectomy, and are experiencing new symptoms (chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, etc.).

All Individuals with an unexplained cardiomyopathy

For localization of the coronary sinus prior to pacemaker placement.

Other indicators: Evaluation of Congenital Heart Disease, annual follow-up of patients after heart transplant, Coronary vein assessment, pacemaker placement.