Extremely high calcium score at 42 - is there any positive here??
I'm a 42-year-old male. Exercise regularly, not overweight, non-smoker. While not overweight, I will say that my diet is crap — way too much fast food, pizza etc. I guess I still eat like a high schooler.
Anyway, I saw a cardiologist figuring after age 40 this would be wise. He took bloodwork which was basically all fine. The cholesterol was *slightly* elevated and he recommended getting a heart calcium score. Told me he expected it would show nothing but that he just wanted to be thorough. Turns out the score came back at 397.
Obviously, this caught me totally flat-footed. I figured with my diet there might be some plaque, but this number places me in the 99.999th percentile for my age. And everything I have read online sound pretty dire about my long-term prognosis now — that significant damage has been done, that it can't be reversed and can only get worse and that the statistical linkage between a number like this and heart attack-stroke is profound.
Weirdly, the cardiologist did not seem to be conveying any alarm when he told me the score, though. He was extremely matter of fact about it. Just said it was "very, very high" and that he would put me on a statin (which I've already started) and that I should take daily baby aspirin (doing that too). He said I should focus on improving diet and continue exercising (I already run 4-5x a week) but he was also pretty emphatic that "this must be genetic." (There is a history of heart problems on my father's side of the family — though he is 76 and has yet to have any heart trouble himself.)
This was all a lot to get hit with at once. From the doctor's casual, matter of fact tone, I left the office a little confused, wondering if maybe this score wasn't that big of a deal and was a very manageable thing. Why else would the doctor not seem that disturbed by it? But then I started reading everything I could find on the subject and it's been pretty devastating.
Obviously, I'm ready, willing and able to implement the dietary changes, but for the score to be this bad at this young of an age (and with no smoking history, not being overweight, and doing regular exercise), it seems like I'm in serious trouble here. So upsetting to read that I can't bring this number down.
I guess I'm just posting this in the hopes that others here might have some experience and insight and be able to offer something, anything that is encouraging? When I read all of the medical material online about high CAC scores, am I missing something? This has all been playing out over the last 24 hours and I feel like I've basically just found out that I could drop dead of a heart attack at any moment and that my life expectancy has been drastically reduced with this news — and that there's no way to get it back to normal. I now have a million questions for the cardiologist, but when I called his office today I was told he's just started his vacation and won't be back until August.
Any encouragement or practical advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.