Coronary artery disease remains the number one killer in the United States, but most people experiencing their first heart attack don’t have high cholesterol.
Instead, they suffer from a buildup of calcified cholesterol plaque in their coronary arteries. A quick, non-invasive technique called calcium scoring uses low radiation CT scans to detect that calcium, and helps to identify risks for coronary artery disease (CAD) and heart attacks. Doctors can then offer treatments that may positively affect patient outcomes.
The score from a CT scan is based on the density and extent of calcification:
0: Low risk
1-99: Moderately high risk
100-440: High risk
Greater than 400: Very high risk
“If you have a 0 score, you have a 99 percent chance of being alive in ten years,” said Dr. Larry Weathers. “Then the various levels, up to 300, are associated with a high risk of having a significant blockage.”
This test is offered in select locations across Mercy, so ask your doctor if you think your heart might be at risk. While calcium scoring may be more reliable than traditional risk assessments, they aren’t for everyone. A calcium scan is not helpful in patients with a low or high risk of heart disease. To learn more, click here.