How Much Calcium is in Your Arteries?

At Hunterdon Cardiovascular Associates, the health of your heart is our sole focus. One good way to ascertain potential problems is measuring the amount of calcium in your arteries. Calcium is usually delivered in the cholesterol plaque that you’ve probably heard of.

To measure the amount of calcium in your arteries we use the coronary artery calcium test (CAC).

Why do I need a coronary artery calcium test?

Plaque inside the arteries of your heart can grow and begin to restrict the blood flow to the muscles of the heart. As this plaque and calcium adhere to your arteries and builds you have no idea; it’s a lengthy process. Measuring calcified plaque with a CAC gives our Hunterdon doctors the information they need to identify possible coronary artery disease before it has shown any signs or symptoms.

What is a coronary artery calcium test?

A CAC is a CT scan of your heart. It measures how much calcium has accumulated on the walls of the arteries of your heart. Because calcium is present in calcified cholesterol plaque, measuring the calcium buildup gives us a good idea of how much plaque is lining your arteries and the associated disease risk.

A CT scan (computerized tomography) is a special x-ray test that produces cross-sectional images of the target using x-rays and a computer. In a CT scan multiple images are combined to create cross-sectional images that are then viewed on a computer monitor. CAC tests provide greater detail than traditional x-rays.

How is a CAC done?

For this test, our technician attaches sensors, called electrodes, to your chest. These connect to an electrocardiogram (EKG), which records your heart activity during the exam and coordinates the timing of x-ray pictures between heartbeats, when the heart muscles are relaxed.

You lie on your back on a movable table that slides into the tube of the CT scanner. Your head remains outside the tube. If you are nervous or anxious, we may provide a sedative to slow your heart for better x-ray detail.

You’ll be asked to lie very still and hold your breath for a few seconds while the x-rays are taken. The entire process only takes from 10-15 minutes.

Calcium score

With CAC tests, we can judge the amount of calcium in your arteries. This gives us guidance when designating your treatment. Once you have your CAC, you will get a “calcium score.” This ranks the amount of calcium present. Your calcium score is compared to those of similarly aged men and women. This gives us a good indicator as we move forward and plan the best options for lowering your risk of heart attack.

Do you need a coronary artery calcium test? Call the team at Hunterdon Cardiovascular Associates, (908) 788-1710, and let’s discuss your needs.

Posted in: Coronary Artery Calcium Test

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