This is a special type of CAT scan which looks for blockages within the arteries that feed your heart muscle. This test is relatively painless and fast. For the most part, the scan is similar to CAT scans of other parts of your body, with some small changes. For some patients with heart rhythm problems, a different type of heart CAT scan is ordered to assess the veins of the heart. In such cases, minor differences in preparation are required.

How to prepare:

  • Avoid any caffeinated drinks on the day before or the day of your exam. Coffee, tea, energy drinks, or caffeinated sodas.
  • Avoid energy or diet pills on the day before or the day of your exam (ask your doctor if you have questions).
  • Do not use Viagra or any similar medication on the day before or the day of the exam. It is not compatible with the medications you will receive during the procedure (ask your doctor if you have questions).
  • On the day of your exam do not eat for four hours prior to your scheduled appointment. You may drink water and take your regular medications.

    If you are diabetic, ask your physician how to adjust your medications the day of your test. If you think your blood sugar is low, tell the technologist immediately.

  • You may be required to take some medication called a beta-blocker the night before and the morning of your CAT Scan. This is used to slow down your heart rate so that the doctor can take clear photos or your heart. When booking your appointment, inform us if you have any drug allergies or active asthma (i.e. have you had an asthma attack in the last 24 hours). Some patients are already taking beta-blockers and no additional medication is necessary. If you have a list of your medications handy, bring it in with you for your exam. You may wish to have it handy when calling for your appointment.
  • Tell your technologist and your doctor if you are:
  • pregnant
  • allergic to iodine
  • over 60 years old or have a history of kidney problems (you may be required to have a blood test to evaluate your kidney function prior to receiving any contrast agent)

What to expect on the day of your test:

  • When you arrive, we will ask you some basic questions to verify your identity and make sure the correct test is being requested and done.
  • Once the correct procedure is verified, you will change into a gown and a nurse will insert an IV line into a vein in your arm to administer contrast (dye) during your procedure.
  • You will lie down on a special scanning table for your test. The technologist will then place small, sticky electrode patches on your chest. Men may expect to have their chest partially shaved to help the electrodes stick. The electrodes are attached to an electrocardiograph (ECG) monitor, which charts your heart’s electrical activity during the test.
  • Once everything is prepared correctly, you will be asked to raise your arms over your head for the duration of the exam. During the scan, you will feel the table move inside a donut-shaped scanner. (You will only be up into the machine up to your chin – your face will be outside the scanner.) During the scan you will receive a contrast agent through your IV to help produce the images. It is common to feel a warm sensation as the contrast circulates through your body.
  • Once the technologist is sure that all the information is collected, the IV will be removed.

From the time you arrive to the time you walk out, expect it to take around 30 to 45 minutes. Note that the actual CT scan only takes a few minutes.