A CTCA is a non-invasive imaging test using a CT scanner. A CTCA takes pictures of a contrast dye injected into your veins as it goes through your coronary arteries. A CTCA identifies the presence of narrowing of the arteries caused by calcified or non-calcified plaque, a known cause of heart attacks and chest pain. A CTCA allows your doctor to detect coronary artery disease early in a non-invasive way.
Don’t drink caffeine tea, coffee or take any stimulants such as cold and flu medication or smoke cigarettes 12 hours prior to the test. Do not eat anything 2 hours prior to the test. Remove necklaces. Avoid dehydration prior to the test and after. Your doctor may give you medication prior to the scan to slow your heart down to make the images more accurate. You may be required to stop other medications.
A cannula will be inserted into a vein so that the “contrast dye” can be given that ultimately will highlight the coronary arteries. You will be asked to take off the clothes above your waist and put on a gown provided to you. You will be asked to lie down on the bed that slides into the CT scanner. If your heart rate is still high, you may be given more medication to slow it.
Immediately prior to the scan, you may be given a spray of nitrate under your tongue to enlarge the coronary blood vessels. Contrast dye will then be injected into your vein via the cannula. This can cause a hot flush through the body or a metallic taste in the mouth for a few seconds. You will be monitored for 20 minutes.