Calcium in the arteries sometimes indicates a higher risk of heart attack. The deposits narrow the arteries and decrease blood flow. A coronary calcium test or heart scan looks for these deposits and the results are sometimes called a coronary calcium score, according to Mayo Clinic.
Coronary artery disease is the leading cause of heart attacks and death, reports Mayo Clinic. The buildup of plaques in the arteries causes this disease. Cholesterol, fats and calcium are the primary components of plaques. Doctors use noninvasive scans to detect the calcium deposits in diagnosing arteriosclerosis. In some locations, patients are able to visit standalone facilities for a calcium scan without a doctor’s orders.
The American Heart Association does not recommend heart scans for all patients, warns Mayo Clinic. The results of such tests or a diagnosis of calcium in the heart arteries are not something for the patient to interpret alone. Patients who have the test at a standalone facility should take a copy of the results of the test to their doctor for further discussion.
If the calcium in the heart arteries is high and there are other high-risk factors, the doctor may recommend aggressive treatment with medication or lifestyle changes. Some patients require further testing to interpret the meaning of the condition. However, patients with calcium in the heart arteries but are low-risk in other areas may have no cause for concern, advises Mayo Clinic.