Cardiac CT for Calcium Scoring
Cardiac CT for calcium scoring is a quick, useful, and non-invasive way to determine the amount of calcified (hard) plaque in your heart vessels by using a CT scanner. This exam, also known as a coronary calcium scan, is used to estimate the extent, presence, location, and amount of calcified plaque in the coronary arteries. The calcium level is equal to the level of plaque build-up in your arteries; plaque in the arteries can cause heart attacks. Your doctor calculates your risk of developing coronary artery disease (CAD)-related events such as a heart attack or a stroke by measuring your calcium score.
How Does Calcium Plaque Develop?
Accumulation of calcium is an early sign of coronary artery disease and typically precedes actual blockages. Several studies have reported that intimal calcification risk factors are advanced age, diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, hypertension, male gender, cigarette smoking, and renal disease. The arteries are also affected by elevated blood glucose levels and excess body fat.
The coronary arteries are the vessels that supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart. Plaque takes up calcium, which can be detected and calculated in a heart scan. Plaque, made of fat, calcium, and other substances, may develop and narrow the arteries or close them. Severe calcification and fat accumulation can lead to coronary artery diseases or atherosclerosis. This blockage can restrict the blood flow to the heart tissue, with inadequate blood supply an individual may experience severe heart complications or even heart failure.
Coronary Calcium Scoring Results
|Calcium score||Plaque amount||Risks associated|
|0||No plaque||Your risk of heart attack is low|
|1-10||Small amount of plaque||Less than a 10% chance of heart disease, low risk of heart attack|
|11-100||Some plaque||Mild heart disease, moderate risk of heart attack, your doctor may recommend other treatment in addition to lifestyle changes|
|101-400||Moderate amount of plaque||Increased risk of heart disease or you may have heart disease, moderate to high risk of heart attack, your doctor may request additional testing and may start treatment|
|More than 400||Large amount of plaque||You have more than a 90% chance of plaque blocking one of your arteries, high chance of heart attack, your doctor will request additional testing and will start treatment|
How Does a Coronary Calcium Scan Work?
The CT scanner produces images of coronary arteries to show if they are narrowed or blocked by the development of plaque; this blockage indicates coronary artery disease (CAD) or atherosclerosis. The critical information derived from this imaging technique helps predict the increased risks for heart diseases and heart attack. The images produced during the CT scan can give more precise details than typical x-ray machines.
How Is Cardiac CT for Calcium Scoring Helpful?
The extent of calcium measured by a cardiac CT scan helps in calcium scoring. A lower calcium score means low risks of cardiac complications, while greater calcium scoring indicates a considerable amount of plaque in the coronary arteries. This higher score shows a higher risk of cardiac events and heart failure. It is why cardiac CT for calcium scoring is a reliable predictor of cardiac complications and heart attack. It has been trusted as a better predictor of coronary complications than the typical cholesterol screening and other generic blood assessments.