Coronary artery calcium scoring is one of the most advanced methods available to detect heart disease in its earliest stages. And, there’s no better time than now to prevent heart disease, because statistics like these continue to remind us of its tragic effects:
Heart disease is the common name for “coronary artery disease” (CAD). This condition is the end result of a progressive hardening of the arteries, a process in which arteries become clogged and prevent oxygen-rich blood from reaching the heart. Over time, deposits of cholesterol and other substances build up along vessel walls and become calcified. Blood flow slows until a blood clot forms, completely sealing off the passage of blood to the heart. At that point, a heart attack occurs.
The following factors may increase your risk for heart disease and, ultimately, a heart attack:
If two or more of the above factors apply, you may be at risk for heart disease, and CACS may be a good next step to assess your risk more completely.
Calcification in the coronary arteries is the earliest indicator of heart disease. CACS uses noninvasive, high-speed computerized tomography (CT) to scan your heart and detect calcium deposits along the walls of arteries. The test then produces a calcium score that identifies your level of deposits. Taking into account other factors such as age, family history and cholesterol level, your doctor uses that score to measure your potential for heart disease.
CT Images of a healthy artery (left) and a clogged artery (right)
The results of your exam represent peace of mind, since early detection is key to prevention. Considering over half the people who died suddenly of heart disease had no symptoms, what you know today can help you live a healthier tomorrow.
Should your score indicate a risk for heart disease, your doctor can recommend drug therapies or lifestyle modifications to help slow the progression of the disease.