What Is a Heart Calcium Score?


Quick Answer

A heart calcium core is indicated by a coronary calcium scan; a diagnostic test that checks for the build-up of calcium in plaque on the walls of heart arteries, according to WebMD. Scores may range from 0 to more than 400; the higher the number, the greater the patient's chances of suffering a heart attack. Scores over 100 indicate the patient is likely to have heart disease.

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Full Answer

The test is used to check for early-stage heart disease and determine the severity of blockages. The coronary arteries supply blood to the heart and do not normally carry calcium; its presence may be a sign of coronary artery disease (CAD). During the roughly 30-minute scan, electrodes are placed on the chest of the patient to record the electrical activity of the heart; such scans are typically executed by a radiation technologist, states WebMD.

A coronary calcium scan can assist doctors and patients with making decisions related to lowering the risk for heart disease, heart attack and stroke and most helpful to medium risk individuals due to blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, age, sex and race. The test is not common among men younger than 40 and women under the age of 50; calcium build-up in the arteries is typically minimal in younger persons, explains WebMD.

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