CARDIAC CALCIUM SCORING
- Coronary artery disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States. More Americans die of heart disease than all types of cancer combined.
- Plaque or calcium build-up in the coronary arteries causes heart disease or can lead to a heart attack
- Coronary artery calcium scoring is useful as a risk-stratification tool in coronary artery disease, and it outperforms other risk-assessment methods as per American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association guidelines.
- The purpose of the test is to understand your risk of heart attack or disease, taking preventive or corrective measures based on the results.
Coronary artery disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States. More Americans die of heart disease than all types of cancer combined. The coronary arteries are the vessels that supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart.
Plaque, made of fat, calcium and other substances, can build up and narrow or close the arteries. Plaque or calcium build-up in the coronary arteries causes heart disease or can lead to a heart attack. To detect this build-up, your medical provider may order cardiac calcium scoring.
Cardiac Calcium Scoring (Heart Scan)
This non-invasive CT scan (computed tomography) of the heart calculates your risk of developing coronary artery disease (CAD) by measuring the amount of calcified plaque in the coronary arteries. Recent studies have shown Cardiac Calcium Scoring to be a more powerful predictor of heart disease than cholesterol levels. Cardiac Calcium Scoring is a revolutionary procedure that reveals the amount of calcified plaque on the coronary arteries, an indicator of a person’s risk of heart attack, before symptoms begin to show.
What will the exam be like?
During Cardiac Calcium Scoring, patients lie comfortably on an imaging table and hold their breath for intervals of approximately 20 seconds while a CT scanner takes images of their coronary arteries. The non-contrast CT scan is fast, safe and accurate. After the exam, one of Princeton Radiology’s Board certified radiologists reviews the images, looking for areas of arterial calcification, or “plaque” buildup. The total amount of “plaque” buildup the images reveal determines a patient’s overall cardiac risk, which is designated by a number called a Coronary Artery Calcium (CAC) score.
Who may benefit from Cardiac Calcium Scoring?
Anyone 40 years of age or older who is considered at risk for heart disease based on family history or personal history may benefit by having a screening exam. This includes you if you have:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Family history of heart disease
- History of smoking
- Sedentary or stressful lifestyle
- Overweight by 20% or more
If one or more of these factors applies to you, we encourage you to speak with your doctor about this screening procedure.
The results from your cardiac scoring will be sent to the medical provider that ordered your test. The likelihood of having heart disease or a heart attack often correlates with the calcium score. The lower your calcium score and percentile rank, the less likely you are to have a cardiac event compared to other men or women your age.
- A score of zero means no calcium is seen in the heart. It suggests a low chance of developing a heart attack in the future.
- When calcium is present, the higher the score, the higher your risk of heart disease.
- A score of 100 to 300 means moderate plaque deposits. It’s associated with a relatively high risk of heart attack or another heart disease over the next three to five years.
- A score greater than 300 is a sign of very high to severe disease and heart attack risk.
The purpose of the test is to understand your risk of heart attack or disease, taking preventive or corrective measures based on the results.
This type of exam is not covered by any health insurance plan. At advanced Magnetic imaging , the fee is $99 and payable in full at the time of the visit.
The information in this document does not replace a medical consultation. It is for personal guidance use only. We recommend that patients ask their doctors about what tests or types of treatments are needed for their condition.