How to Interpret a Heart Scan / Calcium Score
By Steve Parcell, ND
A heart scan is a very useful way to individualize a patient’s care in my Boulder patient population. It allows the clinician to stratify risk in a way that blood test cannot. Calcium scoring has been found to be more accurate at predicting risk than blood tests. A heart scan tells you how much calcified plaque you have as well as which arteries are effected. Risk increases as the calcium score gets higher but there’s a catch. It’s the rate of progression that matters more. A rate of progression greater than 15% is too high. Left untreated rates of progression can be very high. The worst one I ever saw was 150% in one year. A rapidly progressing calcium means that new plaque is forming and indicates active disease. One drawback to the heart scan is the fact that it can only see older calcified plaque not newer uncalcified plaque.
Its not enough just to get a scan though. There needs to be adequate TREATMENT and further blood testing to determine WHY there is disease.
There is a new documentary called the Widowmaker on heart scans and how they can save lives.