“Essentially, a calcium scoring scan is a CT scan of heart,” says Dr. Daub, who specializes in body imaging. “The scan acquires high-resolution images of the heart at rest based on electrocardiogram (EKG) gating. It shows the coronary arteries in great detail.”
Next, clinicians use a software program that can identify calcified coronary artery plaque using the scan of your heart. Coronary artery plaque, which is different than the plaque the dentist warns you about, is accumulated in a process called atherosclerosis. Over time, this process can lead to a blocked coronary artery and, subsequently, a heart attack.
Because atherosclerosis is generally considered nonreversible, it’s of the utmost importance to catch it early and prevent progression of the disease.
After processing your Heart Scan, the software will give you a “calcium score” that can be compared to people of similar age, ethnicity and gender. The higher your calcium score, the more likely you are at risk for underlying heart disease.
“For example, a score of over 400 would be quite high and it would signify a high likelihood of at least one significant coronary artery narrowing,” Dr. Daub says. “Someone with such a high level would want to follow up with a cardiologist for possible further testing and evaluation.”