Cardiac calcium scoring: A quick screening for heart disease, before symptoms appear

Cardiac calcium scoring involves a quick and painless CT scan of the heart that’s used to measure calcium deposits (plaque) in coronary arteries, an early indicator of heart disease.

Plaque that builds up over time in the walls of the coronary arteries can gradually decrease or block blood flow to the heart, which can cause a heart attack or other issues.

The screening exam is best for patients who have risk factors for heart disease but have no symptoms, and allows for interventions that minimize risk, including medications and lifestyle changes.

Those with the following risk factors may benefit from a cardiac calcium scoring CT scan:

  • Men 40 and older; women 50 and older
  • Family history of heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • History of smoking
  • Not physically active
  • Obesity

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, where a person dies every 34 seconds from the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Although it’s a significant health issue, it’s not uncommon for heart disease to go undiagnosed until a major event, such as a heart attack, occurs,” said Alexander Steever, M.D., director of CT and MRI services at Washington Radiology. “Cardiac calcium scoring gives patients and their doctors more information to determine how to approach their cardiovascular health before issues arise.”

Speak with your primary care provider about whether a cardiac calcium scoring CT scan is right for you. With a provider’s order, you can book your appointment at Washington Radiology by calling (703) 280-9800.

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