Over time calcium can build up in the arteries that supply blood to your heart. This is called coronary artery disease (CAD). If left untreated, the buildup of calcium can block your arteries and lead to a heart attack and sudden death.
If you’ve been told you are at risk for CAD, there is a simple test that measures the level of calcium in your coronary arteries. It uses computed tomography (CT) to scan your arteries to produce a calcium score.
While a calcium scan can be a lifesaver, it isn’t for everyone. Your doctor can help you determine your risk for heart disease, heart attack and stroke. Some risk factors include smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, family history, diabetes and obesity. Talk to your Mercy doctor about whether a calcium scan is right for you.
Your calcium score can range from 0 to more than 400. The higher the number, the higher the chances of having a heart attack. If you score between 100 and 400, you are at medium risk for heart disease and are more prone to have a heart attack within three to five years.
The results of the calcium scan can help your doctor develop the best course of action to avoid additional damage to your heart. This may include medications to reduce cholesterol that can lead to calcium buildup.
In addition, there are steps you can take to lower your chance of developing heart disease – eat better, maintain a healthy weight, stop smoking and remain active.
Together, we can keep your heart healthy, so you can keep doing all the things you love.