The coronary calcium score is a diagnostic measure used to determine the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, namely coronary artery disease (CAD). It measures the quantity of calcium deposits in the coronary arteries, which can indicate the presence of atherosclerosis or plaque buildup.
The following is the role of coronary calcium score in assessing heart health:
- Risk assessment for coronary artery disease: The coronary calcium score assists in determining the risk of getting CAD. Calcium deposits in the coronary arteries are a sign of atherosclerosis, which is characterised by a progressive constriction and hardening of the arteries caused by plaque formation. The greater the calcium score, the more likely you are to have serious coronary artery disease.
- Identifying high-risk individuals: The calcium score goes beyond standard risk variables including age, gender, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure. It can help identify those who are at a higher risk of developing CAD even if their traditional risk factors are not significantly raised. This enables more tailored preventive and intervention approaches.
- Treatment strategy refinement: The coronary calcium score can help guide treatment decisions. For example, if a person has a high calcium score, it may trigger more active risk factor management, lifestyle changes, and medication use to lower the risk of future cardiac events. In contrast, a low or zero calcium score may suggest a decreased risk and impact treatment intensity selections.
- Monitoring illness progression: The calcium score can be used to track the progression of a disease over time. Repeated scans can detect changes in calcium deposition and plaque burden, revealing the effectiveness of therapies and guiding treatment strategy revisions.
- Motivating lifestyle changes: A high calcium score can serve as a wake-up call for people to live healthier lives. It can provide visible evidence of the prevalence and depth of atherosclerosis, which may encourage people to make good changes like stopping smoking, improving their diet, increasing physical activity, and managing other risk factors.
It is crucial to highlight that the coronary calcium score is just one of many tools used by healthcare practitioners to assess heart health. It should be interpreted alongside clinical evaluation, additional diagnostic testing, and individual risk factors. A healthcare provider should be consulted before deciding to undergo a coronary calcium scoring test.