Coronary Artery Calcium and your Calcium Score
While there is no doubt that high risk patients (those with multiple risk factors for
heart disease, such as diabetes, family history or high cholesterol) need more aggressive
preventive therapy, a majority of cardiovascular events occur in individuals with only 1-2
risk factors for heart disease. Coronary artery calcium (CAC) has been shown to be highly
specific for atherosclerosis, demonstrating that if there is coronary calcium present, there
is plaque building up in the coronary arteries. There is ample evidence to now show that
elevated coronary calcium scores (CCS) are predictive of future cardiovascular events, both
independently of and incrementally to conventional cardiovascular risk factors. Based on
current available data, patients with increased plaque burdens (increased CCS) are approximately
ten times more likely to suffer a cardiac event over the next 3-5 years. Coronary calcium
scores have outperformed conventional risk factors, highly sensitive C-reactive protein (CRP)
and carotid intima media thickness (IMT) as a predictor of cardiovascular events. Both Electron
Beam Tomography (EBT) and multidetector computed tomography can accurately detect and quantify
the CCS. In summary, coronary calcium detection significantly improves the accuracy of cardiac
risk factors, the non-invasive tracking of the atherosclerotic burden and the prediction of
future cardiovascular events. The newly issued SHAPE Guidelines call for all American Men
over 45 years of age and all women over 55 years of age to undergo measurement of atherosclerosis,
preferably with coronary calcium scanning to see if they are at risk of a heart attack or stroke.
Do you know your Calcium Score?
As featured on Sept. 5, 2005 issue of Time Magazine
What is the cost fo a calcium scan?
The average cost of a calcium scan is $400.
By ScanDirectory.com Staff
Updated: May 4, 2007