Calcium scoring uses a non-invasive, high speed computerized tomography (CT) to scan the heart and measure the total amount of calcified (hardened) plaque in the coronary arteries. Plaque inside the arteries of your heart can grow and restrict blood flow to the muscles of the heart. More coronary calcium indicates more coronary atherosclerosis, which is suggestive of a higher risk of future cardiovascular events including a heart attack.
Measuring calcified plaque with a heart scan may allow your doctor to identify possible coronary artery disease before you have signs and symptoms. Having this information can be life-saving.
- Age. Aging increases your risk of damaged and narrowed arteries and weakened or thickened heart muscle.
- Gender. Men are generally at greater risk of heart disease. However, women’s risk increases after menopause.
- Family history. A family history of heart disease increases your risk of coronary artery disease, especially if a parent developed it at an early age (before age 55 for a male relative, such as your brother or father, and 65 for a female relative, such as your mother or sister).
- Smoking. Nicotine constricts your blood vessels, and carbon monoxide can damage their inner lining, making them more susceptible to atherosclerosis. Heart attacks are more common in smokers than in nonsmokers.
- Poor diet. A diet that’s high in fat, salt, sugar and cholesterol can contribute to the development of heart disease.
- High blood pressure. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can result in hardening and thickening of your arteries, narrowing the vessels through which blood flows.
- High blood cholesterol levels. High levels of cholesterol in your blood can increase the risk of formation of plaques and atherosclerosis.
- Diabetes. Diabetes increases your risk of heart disease. Both conditions share similar risk factors, such as obesity and high blood pressure.
- Obesity. Excess weight typically worsens other risk factors.
- Physical inactivity. Lack of exercise also is associated with many forms of heart disease and some of its other risk factors, as well.
- Stress. Unrelieved stress may damage your arteries and worsen other risk factors for heart disease.
A Cardiac CT for Calcium Scoring is a screening for patients who do not have any symptoms and are at intermediate risk for heart disease.
To be eligible, you must be a male over age 45 or a female over age 55 and have the following:
- Current or former smoker
- High stress levels
- History of high cholesterol, diabetes or high blood pressure
- Inactive or sedentary lifestyle
- Overweight or obese
- Personal or family history of heart disease
No, actually on the contrary, a Cardiac Calcium Scoring CT may allow your doctor to identify possible coronary artery disease BEFORE you have signs and symptoms.
Yes, a prescription from your doctor is required.
Windsong charges a discounted price for this exam, making it affordable even when not covered by insurance. Currently, the cost of the exam is $125. This is subject to change from the time this was written. Call 716.631.2500 to for more updated information.
Your doctor may order a heart scan to get a better understanding of your risk of heart disease or if your treatment plan is uncertain. Measuring calcified plaque with a Cardiac Calcium Scoring CT may allow your doctor to identify possible coronary artery disease before you have signs and symptoms.