As the leading cause of death for both men and women, heart disease looms large in the United States. What many people don’t realize, however, is that this condition is often entirely preventable. An early understanding of risk factors is critical — hence the importance of coronary calcium tests.
How Coronary Calcium Tests Work
Coronary calcium tests harness the power of computed tomography (CT) scanners. These machines take several pictures of thin sections of the heart, ultimately combining to form a view capable of revealing specks of calcium situated in the arteries. Known as calcifications, these specks form one of the earliest signs of heart disease. Test results may indicate the need for statins or other preventative measures.
Who Benefits From This Test? Who Should Avoid It?
While the coronary calcium test can prove valuable, it’s not ideal in every situation. This test is most beneficial for those with a moderate risk of heart disease — or those unsure of their risk. Coronary calcium scans are not recommended for those under the age of 40 or over the age of 75.
When determining who is eligible for coronary calcium tests, doctors use detailed criteria to place patients into one of four categories: low, borderline, intermediate, or high. Calcium scans are most commonly used among those placed in the borderline and intermediate categories.
The coronary calcium scan isn’t for everybody, but it could prove a valuable tool for helping you get a handle on heart health. A proactive approach is always best when you suspect you’re at an increased risk of heart disease.
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