What is a Cardiac Calcium Score?
A Cardiac Calcium Score is a screening test that is used to
determine the amount of calcium in the coronary
arteries that feed the heart. The higher your number or score on
the test, the higher your risk for a heart attack.
The coronary arteries provide oxygen-containing blood to the heart muscle. The heart has three main coronary arteries and each has branches that supply blood to certain areas of the heart. A cardiac CT scan for coronary calcium is a non-invasive way of obtaining information about the presence, location and extent of calcified plaque in the coronary arteries. When arteries are highly calcified they become narrow and develop what is known as plaque. This plaque is at risk of developing clots and becoming completely occluded or blocked. When a coronary artery becomes blocked by a clot, the heart will not get enough blood supply and a heart attack will occur.
Purpose of a cardiac calcium score?
The purpose of the cardiac calcium score is to determine if a patient is at high risk for coronary artery disease (CAD), which can lead to a heart attack. The American Heart Association recommends this test for people over 40 years of age with risk factors for heart disease. Studies show that in general a high calcium score is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular events like heart attack and stroke. The lower the calcium score, the lower the risk.
Major risk factors for CAD include:
High blood cholesterol levels
Family history of heart attacks
High blood pressure