Any women with high CAC scores?

Posted by anniehall56 @anniehall56, Feb 1, 2021

I'm new here. Passionate 64-year old Italian-American college journalism professor married to a gastroenterologist who thought I was in great health. Eat pasta, lots of vegetables, fruit, and little meat, never overweight, look young, feel young, but my dad and four of his brothers dropped dead of heart attacks in their 50s. I've always had elevated cholesterol and triglycerides with elevated glucose levels since my 30s, but high HDL. Not one doctor, including my husband, has thought much of it because "I'm a woman" and appear to be the epitome of health. Everything changed 10 weeks ago when I decided I should have some overdue bloodwork. Cholesterol was 280, LDL 170, triglycerides 272, A1C 6.5 and HS-CRP 10. Scared me to death and decided to have the Calcium cat scan, thinking it would be a zero. It came back at 256, with 255 in the LAD. I've had zero symptoms, dance aerobics 45 minutes a day, no shortness of breath. Had the nuclear stress test the week after which came out perfect. WHAT THE HECK? According to the MESA score, I am at the 92 percentile which puts me at high risk for heart attack and stroke, and according the MESA, my arterial age is 79?? Husband got me in to see one of the top researchers of CAC and CAC progression next week at UCLA where he practices but I'm in total disbelief. I don't take statins but may have to (which raises CAC score), taking an aspirin a day, went full strict no refined carbs – goodbye pasta and bread- and lost 15 pounds in 10 weeks which puts me at a weight I was in my 30s. Understand that you can't reverse CAC score but you can stop the progression. That's all I care about right now. Determined and interested in anything you have to say and anything that's worked for you – supplements, diet, vitamins. Have read all your posts (it's my new past time- misery loves company, right?) and have heard of Vitamin C, K, magnesium, fish oil, Co-Q10, niacin, aged garlic). Will post after my appointment next week and share what this doc says (he's written half the studies that come up on CAC, CAD, and CAC progression). As many of you post: I feel like a walking time bomb. Questioning if learning of the CAC score is a blessing or a curse. I went from a very happy person to a total wreck who is relieved to be teaching online for another semester because I don't want to have a heart attack or stroke in front of my students. Sigh.

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Heart & Blood Health group.

@crankyyankee

I think this is my first posting in this group. I'm a 76 year old woman, former jogger, with a CAC score of 1025. In 2015, after asking my PCP about the advisability of taking baby aspirin because my father had died of a massive heart attack at 57, I wavered about getting the scan he suggested despite his own surprise at having his own score be higher than he would have thought. And he's a marathoner! In January of 2016 I decided to have the scan and the results were shocking to my doctor as well as me and my husband! I've always been the EverReady bunny, plenty of energy and loved to jog – up to 6 miles sometimes. But my results – LM-349;LAD-640;LCx-36;RCA-0;PDA- 0;Other-0 put me right into that ticking time bomb category. I quit running because I was sure I was going to die on a run. Because I was asymptomatic, he didn't feel I needed a cardiologist and he put me on 40mg of atorvastatinand a baby aspirin and ordered an exercise stress test which was unremarkable. After 3 months all my lipid numbers were much better (sorry I don't have the earlier numbers) – Total cholesterol 167, Triglycerides 73, Ratio 2.0, HDL 83 and LDL 69. I had a very healthy diet prior to beginning the statin, so I really have to credit it, not my giving up foods I love.

Two years ago in February (2019) I had an episode of shortness of breath (that turned out to be "Political Anxiety" haha) and after seeing a pulmonologist was sent to a cardiologist who had me do another exercise stress test which was again fine, but he changed my meds to 20 mg of rosuvastatin because I'd complained of some neuropathy in my feet since beginning statins and he felt that would be better for me. When I saw him in November of that year my he changed the strength to 40mg of rosuvastatin because he wanted to get my LDL lower and now my numbers are: Total cholesterol: 154, Triglycerides 82, ratio 1.9, HDL 82 and LDL 58. He's very pleased with where I am and so am I. It has taken me these 5 years to finally believe that I'm going to die in my sleep, because I'm doing all I can to stick to a healthy life style. And I realized that when I read your post: I'm past the serious anxiety I had. We have pasta (with a non-meat sauce) at least twice a week and red meat once or twice a month, which I don't miss all that much, I have to say. I have not given up wine. I try to exercise every day and even power walk around my house for 30 minutes if there's too much snow on the ground or the weather's bad. It's been helpful to read others' posts on the the High Calcium Score thread – so many there with long time high scores who are not just existing, but turning their backs on the test results and just proactively living the healthiest life they can.

I agree that the test can be a blessing and a curse, but I've come to see it as a wake-up call and leave it at that. Mostly I say, believe in the science. Soon your score will just be another number. Personally, I'm glad I had it done because it's made me aware of and in charge of my own health in a way that my Dad never was, and I've lived to see 4 grandchildren born, which he sadly was never able to do. Sorry I've gone on about this, but I know at this point you're happy to read good news!

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Thanks so much for this post! Wishing I will get to the point where I can turn my back on this damned CAC score. Your post was so positive and I really need this right now! I blame the political anxiety in the last four years for a lot of this LOL! My dad also died of a massive heart attack after just turning 58 and you're right that we have so many medical advances that were not available to him. I plan to keep educating myself and doing what I'm doing (also not giving up red wine) and hope to be one of the lucky ones who beat this thing.

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@anniehall56

Thanks so much for this post! Wishing I will get to the point where I can turn my back on this damned CAC score. Your post was so positive and I really need this right now! I blame the political anxiety in the last four years for a lot of this LOL! My dad also died of a massive heart attack after just turning 58 and you're right that we have so many medical advances that were not available to him. I plan to keep educating myself and doing what I'm doing (also not giving up red wine) and hope to be one of the lucky ones who beat this thing.

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Hello Check out the information on YouTube concerning the use of K2 / MK-7 Doctors say they have done studies in years past showing the use of K2 and how it can actually pull calcium out of the arteries. And there are no bad side affects from using it. Dosages could be 300 to 500 mcg or higher mcg's per day along with using D3. The K2 moves the D3 in your body to the areas which need it, like your bones. I have just started using K2 myself and I take 500 mcg a day. I'm 68.

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Hello, Check out Dr John Whitcomb seminar on Vitamin K2 / MK-7 he is saying that K2 can actually pull calcium out of your arteries.

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I feel same. Just got results yesterday 740 CAC. I don’t know what the other numbers are. I’m devastated. 63 and 30 lbs overweight. My cholesterol has always been fine until now LDL 138 HDL 76. Total 234. Been reading about upping vitamin C and magnesium and vitamin E. It’s my fault. I did this. Sugar dragon and no regular exercise. I’m sad but wake up call I neeeded. Started Lipitor 10 mg.

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@joe22

Hello Check out the information on YouTube concerning the use of K2 / MK-7 Doctors say they have done studies in years past showing the use of K2 and how it can actually pull calcium out of the arteries. And there are no bad side affects from using it. Dosages could be 300 to 500 mcg or higher mcg's per day along with using D3. The K2 moves the D3 in your body to the areas which need it, like your bones. I have just started using K2 myself and I take 500 mcg a day. I'm 68.

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Hey @joe22, Has it helped lower your CAC? I take 5000 D3 with K2 (125 mcg). Wonder if that is enough since I have been taking it for over a year and yet my CAC was 740 Oct 20, 2022 when I had my first test.

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It is not likely meds will lower CAC scores, but statins plus better lifestyle may help slow the increase – or, at least this is my understanding.

Studies ongoing as to whether icosapent ethyl (Vascepa) helps in some way.

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My story is somewhat similar to yours. I’m 76 and thought I was in reasonably good health until my doctor sent me for CAC after seeing cholesterol of 276. It came back at 411, mostly in the LAD. I was horrified. I’m not overweight, and eat a mostly vegan diet. I haven’t been as great with the exercise, but do go to water aerobics and senior exercise classes most days. After a normal nuclear stress test and echocardiogram, the cardiologist put me on 40mg of Crestor. It seems way too high to me (even Crestor web page says don’t take more than 20 mg unless that doesn’t bring down cholesterol), but I am worried enough that maybe I should do what he says. He tells me that statins do more than just bring down cholesterol, but prevent inflammation and keep the soft, non-calcified plaques from clogging arteries. My research tells me that the best diet for preventing and reversing heart disease is that of Caldwell Esselstyn, who has a book, and also guidelines on his web page. This is the diet Bill Clinton followed after his bypass surgery. I’m also following a Facebook group, 100% Esselstyn Reversal Nutrition Forum, which is a large group of people following his way of eating. It makes total sense to me, but extremely hard to follow: whole food plant based with no meat or animal products (including dairy) and no fat or oil of any kind. I feel like this is the diet that I should be on, but I am failing miserably. Please let me know what your specialist recommends.
I should add that my father died of a heart attack at the age of 54, and my cardiologist says I have “familial hypercholesterolemia”.

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ilene,

40 mg/d of atovastatin is reportedly not uncommon if doc is aggressively treating high CAC. In my case it sent LDL and triglycerides to around 40 (both). Also in my case, after three years of atorvastatin my CAC score increased 15% per year … from 1352 to 2388. Some say this is "normal" progression of calcium growth, but others that this is because statins convert plaque to calcium. Perhaps a combination? My total cholesterol is 94, btw. In my case, I remain so far asymptomatic with very good for age stress tests.

There are lots of fb groups focused on high calcium/cholesterol. … most have little data backing up the numerous "magic" diets or vitamins or supplements, however – I was thrown off one for continuing to point out the lack of data, and the extraordinary claims made by folks (doctors included) selling books and videos.

Everyone should get an advanced lipids panel done – sometimes called Cardio IQ – I would insist on this.

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@liene

My story is somewhat similar to yours. I’m 76 and thought I was in reasonably good health until my doctor sent me for CAC after seeing cholesterol of 276. It came back at 411, mostly in the LAD. I was horrified. I’m not overweight, and eat a mostly vegan diet. I haven’t been as great with the exercise, but do go to water aerobics and senior exercise classes most days. After a normal nuclear stress test and echocardiogram, the cardiologist put me on 40mg of Crestor. It seems way too high to me (even Crestor web page says don’t take more than 20 mg unless that doesn’t bring down cholesterol), but I am worried enough that maybe I should do what he says. He tells me that statins do more than just bring down cholesterol, but prevent inflammation and keep the soft, non-calcified plaques from clogging arteries. My research tells me that the best diet for preventing and reversing heart disease is that of Caldwell Esselstyn, who has a book, and also guidelines on his web page. This is the diet Bill Clinton followed after his bypass surgery. I’m also following a Facebook group, 100% Esselstyn Reversal Nutrition Forum, which is a large group of people following his way of eating. It makes total sense to me, but extremely hard to follow: whole food plant based with no meat or animal products (including dairy) and no fat or oil of any kind. I feel like this is the diet that I should be on, but I am failing miserably. Please let me know what your specialist recommends.
I should add that my father died of a heart attack at the age of 54, and my cardiologist says I have “familial hypercholesterolemia”.

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Sounds very restrictive. I am doing intermittent fasting to keep insulin levels low. Eating low fat and whole Foods. But grass fed meat and organic chicken is fine. I’m on 10 mg Lipitor. Need to lose 25 lbs. I am exercising regular now too. I am very concerned and committed to do my part. Stress test and echo was good. You should follow cardiologist Dr. Pradip Jamnadas. He blames this on Standard American Diet. (SAD)

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This is where is starts. It seems unreasonable that any one person should be "followed."

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