Cardiac tests like the calcium score can help us to assess your risk of heart disease, but that doesn’t mean that you should have every available test as often as possible. It’s important to know which tests are appropriate and when you should have them.
What is the Calcium Score Cardio Scan?
The calcium score CT scan is one of the tests that can be used to assess your risk of heart disease. It is a special kind of scan that can measure the amount of calcium inside your coronary arteries. The coronary arteries supply the heart itself with blood so that it can continue to beat strongly and regularly. Calcium can build up here as part of the plaque deposits inside the arteries. If there is a lot of plaque, then it can prevent the blood from flowing freely. Since we can measure the amount of calcium in the plaque, we can estimate how severely the coronary arteries are affected.
Who Should Have a Calcium Score Scan?
Calcium scores aren’t always needed for cardiac screening. If you are at lower risk of heart disease and you don’t have any symptoms, then your doctor might not need to run this test. However, if you are at higher risk due to your age, lifestyle or family history then it can be a valuable part of your care.
The results of the calcium score test can help us to estimate the chances that you will develop heart disease:
- A score of 0 means there are no calcium deposits and you have a low risk of heart disease in the next 5 years
- Scores up to 400 mean there is some calcium build-up in the arteries, which can be a sign that you need to make some lifestyle changes to prevent them from getting worse
- Calcium scores of 400 or more mean that you are at high risk of serious heart disease including angina or a heart attack in the next 10 years
- Calcium scores of 1000 or more mean that you have a 1 in 4 chance of developing serious heart disease in the next year and you need treatment to prevent this
When Should You Get a Calcium Score Scan?
The calcium score can be very useful when we want to understand how well your coronary arteries are functioning. It is a safe, non-invasive and reliable test. However, there’s no point in having unnecessary medical tests as it will just make you worry and waste your time.
The calcium score scan is usually performed as a one-off test if your cardiologist thinks that you are at higher risk of heart disease, which could be due to your age, lifestyle or family history. However, repeating the test can be useful if we need to monitor your condition. If you have a very low or high calcium score, it is unlikely to change, but if your score is moderate it can be worth repeating the scan to see if it has changed. We might recommend another scan in 2-5 years as well as some lifestyle changes to protect your arteries.