CAC scoring is used to quantify how much calcium is found in the arterial walls of your heart; your results from one such test will be used by your physician to estimate the likelihood that you’ll develop heart disease, have a heart attack, or have a stroke. It’s useful to measure how much calcium is in your cardiac arteries because though the majority of calcium stored in your body is in your teeth and bones, there may be a buildup of calcium and plaque in the arteries. A buildup of plaque could lead to atherosclerosis (plaque buildup that leads to narrowing or blocking of the arteries), which may ultimately cause heart disease, a stroke, or a heart attack.
Your CAC score is evaluated using a CT scan. Your results are generally given numerically, via what is called an Agatston score; this number signifies the calcium’s density and total area of deposits. The higher your Agatston score, the higher your risk of developing heart disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, a score of 0 suggests a small likelihood of a heart attack in the future, because there was no calcium seen in your heart. A score ranging from 100 to 300 points to moderate deposits of plaque and a relatively high risk of a heart attack or other cardiac disease in the next three to five years. Finally, a CAC score higher than 300 suggests a very high risk of heart attack or other cardiac disease. You could also receive a percentile score with your results; this compares your CAC score to that of other individuals of the same sex and age.
Your doctor will tailor your treatment suggestions based on your CAC score. This may include:
- Additional testing
- Weight-loss goals
- Different doses of your current medication
- New medication
- Follow-up appointments to monitor your treatment plan and health
If your CAC score is considered high, it’s likely your doctor will recommend one or more of the above.
If your Ezra specialist determines that you are at a higher risk of developing cardiac issues, they will add in a low-dose CT scan free of charge. If you’d like to learn more about Ezra’s screening plans and pricing options, you may do so here.