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Coronary Calcium Scoring

What is Coronary Calcium Scoring?

A simple heart scan called coronary calcium scoring can detect your risk of cardiovascular disease. The noninvasive exam takes only minutes to perform and is used to determine the presence of calcified plaque in the arteries.

Plaque is composed of fat, cholesterol and calcium. The plaque in the coronary arteries—the arteries that supply blood to the heart—narrows blood flow. This condition, known as atherosclerosis, increases the likelihood of a future heart attack, heart failure and stroke. Early detection enables physicians to provide aggressive treatment that will hopefully prevent major heart attacks or even cardiac death.

The result of the test is called a ‘coronary calcium score.’ The amount of calcium detected during the scan is used to calculate a score that is combined with other health information to determine your risk of coronary artery disease and heart attack.

Why have a Coronary Calcium Scan?

Coronary calcium scoring is a simple, fast, safe and accurate procedure that uses a CT scan to identify buildup of plaque in the walls of the arteries of the heart. It enables the physician to estimate your risk of heart attack, detect heart disease in early stages, and even treat a heart condition before the patient experiences any symptoms of the disease.

Who should have a scan?

All men and women with an intermediate risk for coronary artery disease should consider having a coronary calcium screening. You are encouraged to have a heart scan if you have one or more of the following risk factors:

  • Family history of heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Current or prior tobacco usage
  • History of prolonged exposure to second-hand smoke
  • Age (men between ages 40-65 and women between ages 45-70)

Know Your Score

An elevated calcium score is associated with an increased risk of heart attack and death.

Calcium score presence of plaque:

  • 0 - No evidence of plaque
  • 1 - 10 Minimal evidence of plaque
  • 11 - 100 Mild evidence of plaque
  • 101 - 400 Moderate evidence of plaque
  • Over 400 - Extensive evidence of plaque