When artery walls have already been damaged by illnesses like smoking, high blood pressure, or diabetes, LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol from our blood can accumulate there over time. When white blood cells attempt to break down cholesterol, plaque is created. This plaque accumulation causes the arteries to constrict, which adds to the heart’s burden.
The arterial plaque deposits have the potential to burst, generating a clot that could impede blood flow and result in a heart attack or stroke. As a protective measure, the body creates calcium deposits surrounding the arterial plaque to prevent it from exploding. We may therefore learn a lot about a patient’s heart health by determining whether or not there is calcified plaque present and how much of it is present in the coronary arteries.
How Is Heart Calcium Measured?
The calcium deposits seen on CT scans are a marker of coronary artery disease (CAD), which may go undetected before a heart attack, as identified by medical specialists in the 1990s. As a result, cardiac CT scans are currently a useful technique for assessing a patient’s risk of having a heart attack. Depending on how much calcium accumulation was found, each patient is given a calcium heart score:
- 0: No plaque is present.
- 1 to 10: Tiny plaque.
- 11-100 Several plaques.
- 101–400: Mild plaque density.
- Over 400: Several plaques.
This knowledge of calcium heart score may encourage those who are at risk to make the necessary lifestyle changes, such as bettering their diet, getting more exercise, quitting smoking, or taking medications that have been recommended to them, to improve their long-term health.
Newly Discovered Benefits Of Cardiac Calcium Scoring
According to a new long-term study, an elevated cardiac calcium score can indicate different health risks, including those for cancer, kidney illness, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Numerous illnesses, including cancer, kidney and lung problems, and cardiovascular disease are likely influenced by the development of damage and chronic inflammation that results in plaque in the arteries.
Therefore, the arterial age-measuring coronary calcium score ought to be able to forecast non-cardiovascular illnesses as well. It analyzes the overall cumulative effect of all risk factors rather than concentrating on a particular risk factor like obesity, smoking, or high blood pressure.
According to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Cardiovascular Imaging, researchers followed 6,000 patients for ten years and found that patients with baseline myocardial calcium scores over 400 had a 53% higher risk of developing cancer in the ensuing ten years; a high myocardial calcium score was linked to a 70% greater chance of developing kidney disease, and patients with scores over 400 had a 2.7-fold greater risk of developing kidney disease.
Is A Heart Calcium Test Necessary?
People who are more likely to develop coronary artery disease (CAD) should discuss the benefits of cardiac calcium scoring with their doctors since they may recommend the test. Diabetes, increased LDL cholesterol, an inherited risk for CAD, obesity, and smoking are all risk factors.
What Results Could You Expect From A Cardiac Ct Scan?
Before the exam, you must change into a gown, take off any jewelry you are wearing, and lie on your back on the CT test table. Your chest will be covered in electrodes for an electrocardiogram (ECG), which records and analyzes your heart rate. Your breath should be held for 10 to 20 seconds as the exam table passes through the equipment. It will guarantee that you don’t move at all while the images are being taken.