Your height, weight, and blood pressure are likely all known to you. For calculating the risk of heart attacks and strokes, another figure can be more important. The coronary artery calcium (CAC) score quantifies coronary plaque, the main contributor to atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases (ASCVD)-related events such as heart attacks and strokes.
Your CT calcium score, which runs from 0 to 1, forecasts your chance of an occurrence like this for up to 15 years. People lacking coronary artery calcium have the lowest absolute risk of ASCVD events, even with risk factors including diabetes, obesity, or advanced age. Even in persons with good health who have never experienced heart disease, high CAC scores raise the risk of ASCVD. The most precise ASCVD biomarker may be a calcium test that is secure, non-invasive, and inexpensive. This article explains the test, whether you should take it, and what the findings might mean.
Calcium: Is It Good?
Calcium is beneficial for bones and food. No, calcium in the arteries. Coronary artery plaque, a waxy substance that is invisible on CT scans, is measured by CAC. Since calcium and fat are the main components of plaque, calcium gradually builds up inside the artery over time. Just as X-rays can see through the skin to the bones, CT scans may detect calcification in the street’s deepest layer. Your arteries may become blocked with plaque, which may impede blood flow and deprive your heart of oxygen. Heart attacks and blood clots can be brought on by plaque buildup. Given that it indirectly assesses plaque in the coronary arteries, your ct calcium score can predict your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
What Makes This Test Required?
Risk is calculated using data from blood tests, demographics, family history, health conditions, and lifestyle factors. It doesn’t accurately predict hardened plaque and doesn’t evaluate arterial plaque. The results of CAC testing in different risk groups are shocking. 15% of low-risk individuals have high levels of calcified plaque and are therefore at an increased risk of an event. Low risk for events exists in 30%–50% of high-risk patients who have no plaque (CAC score of zero).
The test is suggested for people with intermediate risk who desire a more thorough risk assessment to direct therapy and medication selections. Intermediate risk is indicated by one cardiovascular risk factor, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or obesity. According to recent scientific society recommendations, low-risk people with a large family history of ASCVD, particularly early-onset cases, should think about getting the test for risk assessment.
Who Should Steer Clear Of The Test?
People who are unlikely to use the information from a CT scan to make health decisions, such as
- Young people are not advised because they are not likely to accumulate coronary artery calcium.
- High-risk individuals who have experienced a heart attack, stroke, or other serious cardiovascular event need intensive management.
- People who have just undergone a CAC test may repeat it in three to five years if the results were negative at the outset and management is unsure.
- If you don’t fit the provided description but believe the results would be useful, speak with your provider.
How Is Calcium Content Tested?
It will be prescribed by your PCP or a preventive cardiologist. At your yearly physical or routine checkups, discuss your medical history, risk factors, and preventive drugs with your doctor. The photos are analyzed by computers and cardiovascular radiologists. If the scan reveals calcium particles in the arterial walls, calcification is evident. The computer system will determine a score that represents the severity of coronary artery disease and plaque.