Get an Inside Look at Your Heart Health with This Test

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, with coronary artery disease (CAD) being one of the most common causes.

CAD occurs when major blood vessels that supply the heart (coronary arteries) become narrow or blocked by the buildup of calcium, fats, and other substances, called plaque, causing the heart to not get enough oxygen-rich blood. This buildup collects slowly over time, before symptoms occur, eventually leading to chest pain, shortness of breath, and a risk of having a heart attack.

Learning if you have CAD can help you and your doctor plan ways to prevent heart issues. One way to diagnose CAD is with a noninvasive test called Coronary CT Calcium Scoring (CAC). This test uses a computed tomography (CT) scanner that takes multiple pictures of the heart. This can reveal if CAC is present, and to what extent.

“This procedure is generally quick and painless, and it provides valuable information for assessing cardiovascular risks in asymptomatic individuals,” said Maryam Ghadimi Mahani, MD, cardiothoracic radiologist at McLaren Greater Lansing. “The test calculates a calcium score by looking at the extent of calcified plaques that is in the coronary arteries.”

 CAC scoring enables the prediction of developing cardiovascular disease in individuals who currently don’t have any symptoms.

If someone is at a borderline possibility of a cardiovascular event, their doctor may develop a treatment plan based on their scores. When calcium is present, the higher the score, the higher the risk of heart disease. The test score can be given as a number or a percentage. Once the doctor reviews it, they may recommend various treatment options. 

“CAC can provide additional details of your risk of a cardiovascular event such as stroke or heart attack,” said Ibrahim Shah, MD, interventional cardiologist at McLaren Greater Lansing. “By looking at the patient’s calcium score, we can recommend lifestyle modifications to reduce their risk. This can include a weight loss plan and healthy diet. For those with higher scores, we may also recommend medication (such as Statin) to lower cholesterol.”

You may benefit from receiving a CAC test. Consult with your doctor if you are over 40 years old, and if you smoke cigarettes, are overweight or obese, or have one or more of the following:

  • Family history of heart disease
  • High LDL cholesterol
  • Low HDL cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes

McLaren Greater Lansing Heart and Vascular Institute provides a full range of treatments and procedures for cardiovascular care. For more information, click here. For a full list of radiology and imaging services at McLaren Greater Lansing, click here.

Dr. Shah sees patients throughout the Lansing area including Eaton Rapids, East Lansing, and Okemos. To schedule an appointment, call (877) 296-0111. 

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