Not just for the bones, calcium is good for your heart health as well. Your doctor would use what’s referred to as a coronary calcium score or scan to identify heart attack signs. This scan employs a special kind of X-ray, known as CT scan. The scan captures images of your arteries, the blood vessels carrying blood from your heart to other parts of the body, to check calcium levels. This scan could also be called as coronary calcium scan, cardiac CT (for calcium scoring), and calcium scan test.
The calcium this scan looks for is bonded to plaque. This isn’t the plaque associated with your teeth. It is another type found in the arteries. It’s partly made of calcium and fat and is not pro-heart.
At first, this plaque is waxy, and it slowly builds up. However, over a period, it could harden. Doctors may refer to this as “calcified” plaque. It is an issue for a couple of reasons.
First, hard plaque within the arteries is akin to a clog in your kitchen pipe. It obstructs your blood flow. In other words, enough oxygen doesn’t get supplied to your different body parts equally. If plaque accumulates in the arteries of your heart, you could feel chest discomfort and pain, called angina.
Second, the plaque could break down, resulting in a blood clot and leading to a heart attack. The coronary calcium score tells you the amount of calcified plaque that’s there in the arteries of your heart. Your physician and you could use the results and ascertain if any modifications to your lifestyle or medicine is needed.
When to Get the Scan?
Coronary calcium scores aren’t for all. During the test, your body would be exposed to radiation, which equals the amount of radiation you would typically get exposed to in a year. Due to this, you must consider getting this scan only if you really need it to confirm things.
First, you should know your likeliness of getting a heart disease. Your physician can figure this out depending on your age, cholesterol level, blood pressure, gender, and whether you smoke. A heart scan would make sense only if you have a medium, or moderate, risk of heart disease.
If the chances are low, the test most probably wouldn’t reveal any calcified calcium. In case there’s a high likelihood, you wouldn’t come across information that you did not know before. In both these scenarios, you will get exposed to additional radiation for no proper reason. But if there’s medium possibility, you may know what precautionary steps to take to keep heart disease at bay.