Why is a Coronary Calcium Scan (Heart Scan) Important?

A coronary calcium scan is a specialized CT scan of your heart, which enables us to detect the buildup of plaque that contains calcium inside the arteries of the heart. This buildup of plaque can cause angina, a type of chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart. However, this plaque can rupture and the blood that flows inside that artery attempts to seal the rupture in the plaque and forms a blood clot. This blood clot can suddenly worsen angina symptoms and chest pain, or occasionally, can seal the artery off completely. This results in no flow in the artery, and that is called a myocardial infarction or heart attack.

The calcium amount tells us how much plaque is present. Therefore, the higher the amount of calcium, the greater the amount of plaque in the arteries. A coronary calcium scan provides a number for the calcium amount. The greater the number, the greater the risk to the patient. This allows us to identify patients as very low risk, low risk, moderate risk, and high risk. Once identified, appropriate preventive measures can be implemented to prevent the progression of plaque buildup and calcium buildup, and avoid rupture of the plaque.

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