What you can expect

During the procedure

Before the actual scan begins, the technician will attach sensors, called electrodes, to your chest. These are attached to an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), which will record your heart activity during the exam and coordinate the timing of X-ray pictures between heartbeats, when the heart muscles are relaxed.

During the heart scan, you will lie on your back on a movable table. The table will slide you into the tubelike CT scanner. Your head will be outside the scanner the whole time. The exam room will likely be cool.

You may be given medication either by pill or injection that slows your heart to ensure clear images. If you are nervous or anxious, you may be given medication to help you remain calm.

The technician will operate the scanner from a room next door. He or she will be able to see you and communicate with you. The technician will ask you to lie still and hold your breath for a few seconds while the X-ray pictures are taken. The machine will make clicking and whirring sounds, and the entire procedure should take 10 to 15 minutes.

After the procedure

There usually aren't any special precautions you need to take after having a heart scan. You should be able to drive yourself home and continue your daily activities.