What Is a Cardiac Calcium Scoring (CACS)?
September 11, 2019

Cardiac calcium scoring is a quick, painless CT exam that measures calcified atherosclerotic plaque along your heart. This state-of-the-art screening exam allows you to learn about your cardiac health before you have symptoms. Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, affecting 1 in every 6 Americans. Screening for cardiovascular disease is the best way to get ahead of the risk. Treatment depends on your risk level, which can be evaluated with cardiac calcium scoring. 

Our radiologists will assess your risk using cardiac computed tomography (CT) that will measure calcified atherosclerotic plaque along your heart. 

What does a cardiac calcium scan involve? 

A CT technologist will apply ECG (electrocardiogram) leads to allow for proper image timing that is coordinated to your heart rate. CT scans are fast and painless. Using our multidetector CT scanner, the scan takes approximately 15 minutes. 

Who can benefit from coronary artery calcium scoring (CACS)?

CACS is proven to help measure your risk of future heart attacks. Men and women with intermediate risk for heart disease benefit from this screening often before they have symptoms. Your doctor will measure your level of risk prior to the screening. You may be considered an intermediate risk if you have any of the following risk factors: 

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Family history of heart disease

What do the test results mean?

After your exam is evaluated by a radiologist, you will get a number score called a coronary artery calcium score or CACS. A high calcium score means there is a large amount of atherosclerosis, or plaque, in the arteries that supply your heart, putting you at higher risk for heart attacks. 

This measurement of your risk is important for your health. Diet, lifestyle changes, and sometimes medication can help stop atherosclerosis progression and can sometimes reverse the disease. 

Interested in scheduling a screening? 

Talk to your primary care doctor or cardiologist to see if you could benefit from this screening test. You can also contact our scheduling department directly at 541.382.9383