Coronary Calcium Score (Heart Scan)

Posted by mcphee @mcphee, Dec 14, 2016

I have a calcium score of 1,950 which is extremely high which means I am at a very high risk for a cardiac event,heart attack,stroke or sudden death.
I take a statin and baby aspirin.
I have never been sick,have excellent cholesterol,low blood pressure and I am not overweight.
I have no other health problems and I have never been sick.
But I feel like a walking time bomb which has caused me a lot of stress.
I wonder how others with this condition feel emotionally?
I am 70 yrs old.

Liked by sgarelick

@wisconsin2267

I have a calcium score of 2267 with no symptoms . Had a nuclear stress test yesterday. The treadmill test I believe went fine but have not heard back from the Dr. about the imaging. Still stressed but hoping imaging went well as maybe they would have called me by now? Anxiously waiting.

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Stress test came out fine.

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@tim1028

A year ago I had my first CAC CT scan with a resulting score of 1560. This year I had a repeat scan done at a different facility. The score is 250. What to do now? The original radiology group is no longer in business so I can't get a repeat there. My PCP is asking the cardiologist who read the most recent scan to review for discrepancies. Even if the 2nd scan is correct, it likely means that I will need to be on a statin. Any suggestions?

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Tim1028 that is an amazing difference; like they were doing the test on two different people. Please let us know if you figure out why there was such a great discrepancy between the two tests.

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@bluesdoc

Thanks Martin. Statins would not directly affect coronary calcium, but if or when it is a marker for high intimal atherosclerotic load, then lower LDL 'might' help slow plaque formation. I know that it's questionable how effective statins are for 'primary' prevention. In our case, IF our scores are markers for intimal plaque, then I'd view it as secondary prevention, for which statins have a track record. My cardiologist tells me that his group's income is down since statins have been in wide use. People with heart attacks used to come back for a second or third coronary event. No more. Apparently. It's an odds game, just like the rest of life. I tell my patients that when they fear the disease they have, or might have, to not forget that somewhere there's a bus with their name on the grill. You just never know….

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Bluest of You mention taking high-dose CoQ10 along with statins. What do you consider high dose?

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@tim1028

Bluest of You mention taking high-dose CoQ10 along with statins. What do you consider high dose?

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I'm taking 200mg of ubiquinol. Not super high, but high enough for statin balance.

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Hello everyone, first time poster here with a similar tale. First I want to take a moment and thank everyone on this thread for helping me get through this past few stressful weeks. Reading your experiences was extremely educational and emotionally helpful to me.

In 2007, at age 41 (I'm 53 now) I had a cardio cath done because I had some strange throat sensations and elevated troponin levels. The cath showed only minor calcification. My cardiologist at the time called them bumps n grooves. They were not sure how to diagnose me, but I was put on 10 MG of atorvastatin and aspirin therapy.

I have also been diagnosed (at age 14) with Mitral Valve Prolapse. As a result, I see a cardiologist bi-yearly for EKG, and Echocardiogram. Over the years, the murmur associated with my MVP has gotten really hard to hear, and I only have mild regurgitation.

In October, at my regular cardiologist appointment, I mentioned that I had a family history of atherosclerosis, and that my father and his father and his father have all had heart attacks. My father is still alive, but had double bypass. She said that since I had a negative EKG stress test in April of 2017 with no symptoms, there was no need for additional testing. She said that I could get a cardiac CT scan to see what my calcification score was. If it was abnormal, then she would do additional testing.

A month later, I had the test, and my score was 2744. Needless to say, I was stunned by the news. The first thing I did was try to educate myself by looking on the web for high calcification scores. I found this thread, and was intrigued/encouraged by the posters who said that their high scores were due to calcium within the walls of their coronary arteries. I kind of clung to that hope, but was soon deflated.

My cardiologist ordered a nuclear treadmill test which I did a week later. I felt fine as I am in reasonably good shape. They called me the next day and said that it was abnormal, and that I had restricted blood flow in the right side. This news obliterated me, and I fell into a kind of depressed state. I simply could not understand how I went from bumps n grooves to at least 70% blockage in 12 years.

I had a cardio cath on the day after Christmas, and to just about everyone's surprise, my coronary arteries showed mild plaque (two spots that were 20-30%), but nothing that they needed to treat with stents. So, they increased my statin to 40, and I am going to try and eat better and take some supplements like fish oil.

The whole experience was pretty traumatizing, but it had a happy ending, and I at least have peace of mind. The cardiologist that did the procedure said that the calcium that was picked up on the CT scan was within the walls of my arteries. He also said that false positives happen all the time on nuclear stress tests. Something about the diaphragm interfering. The fact that I had two false positives is stunning to me, and I still cant believe it happened.

I guess life goes on. 🙂

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Good story, skypigg! We can all relate. And this underscores the reality (imho) that there is NOT a linear relationship between CAC score and obstructive plaque. If that were the case, we'd all be 6' under by now. Tangentially, I saw my cardiologist last week and he told me about a patient referred to him for cath because a patient had overwhelming anxiety about his CAC score of 275. He did the cath and the vessels were squeaky clean. He also said that they, cardiologists, tend to see problems with coronary disease in the </= 500 CAC range, but not so much above that range. Also, as another aside, I asked him how often they see STEMI (full tilt heart attack) in patients on statins with high CAC score. He said that regardless, they hardly ever see STEMIs when patients are on statins. At the local large hospital this past year, there were ~ 250 heart attacks. The number of those ON statins could be counted on one hand. We need to chill, guys. We do what we can, take our statins, do what we can to reduce systemic inflammation – another deep and wide subject – and get on with our lives without adding to the burden of this existence by fueling anxiety. As another fish in the sea with a CAC over 2500, despite having tried to live a health freak life, it is what it is. I had a nice cookie after my spaghetti dinner. My wife makes killer sauce and I enjoyed every bite.

IMG_5589

Liked by skypigg

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Thanks to both of you for your posts! I found out in February I had a cac of 2200. I was 259 pounds at 53 years of age. Now 10 mo later down to 200. Passed the nuclear stress test and connected with a Bale-Doneen physicisn in Illinois. Am on 2.5 mg Crestor every other day and also on ramipril 2.5 mg daily. He did some genetic testing and found out I need to stay away from gluten. So eating a lot of vegetables and salmon! Thanks again for your posts it’s nice to remember that I am not in this alone.

Liked by skypigg

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A CT scan shows a great deal of calcification in both my carotid arteries.
Have high blood pressure, and family history of heart attacks and strokes.
I wish to point out another tool in the Arsenal and that is natto a massive source of vitamin k2, which has been scientifically looked at and prevents calcification of the arteries by increasing gla matrix protein stripping excess ca+ ions from artery walls. There's a few scientific papers on k2 which show it works to decalcify the arteries of patients with kidney disease.
After reading all the literature on k2, I bought a electric pressure cooker with a yogurt setting, the instant pot duo, and ordered 7 bags of natto bacteria from Ali express which will last year's for under 20 dollars. I now make a weekly batch of natto beans effortlessly for pennies. Look up instant pot natto on youtube. My blood pressure has dropped since, but I am also exercising and have went from 230 to 190lbs at 6ft tall over the past year. You only need to eat a tablespoon a day to get 1000 mcg of vitamin k2.

Liked by skypigg

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@bluesdoc

Good story, skypigg! We can all relate. And this underscores the reality (imho) that there is NOT a linear relationship between CAC score and obstructive plaque. If that were the case, we'd all be 6' under by now. Tangentially, I saw my cardiologist last week and he told me about a patient referred to him for cath because a patient had overwhelming anxiety about his CAC score of 275. He did the cath and the vessels were squeaky clean. He also said that they, cardiologists, tend to see problems with coronary disease in the </= 500 CAC range, but not so much above that range. Also, as another aside, I asked him how often they see STEMI (full tilt heart attack) in patients on statins with high CAC score. He said that regardless, they hardly ever see STEMIs when patients are on statins. At the local large hospital this past year, there were ~ 250 heart attacks. The number of those ON statins could be counted on one hand. We need to chill, guys. We do what we can, take our statins, do what we can to reduce systemic inflammation – another deep and wide subject – and get on with our lives without adding to the burden of this existence by fueling anxiety. As another fish in the sea with a CAC over 2500, despite having tried to live a health freak life, it is what it is. I had a nice cookie after my spaghetti dinner. My wife makes killer sauce and I enjoyed every bite.

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Excellent advice. Stress makes everything worse, and life is too short to begin with.

Speaking of beating the odds, my CAC Report literally said that I had more more plaque burden than any other male in my age group. (100th percentile) I should play my CAC score in the lottery after beating those odds. 😀

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I was in the 99th percentile, so you beat me by 1%!!

Liked by skypigg

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CAC 662 back in July/August (don't remember) but on statin now. Lots of OTC supp's including both kinds of K2. Starting back on BP meds as of today… been off for 20 years (65 now). I guess age and genetics are unavoidable. 🙂

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@skypigg

Hello everyone, first time poster here with a similar tale. First I want to take a moment and thank everyone on this thread for helping me get through this past few stressful weeks. Reading your experiences was extremely educational and emotionally helpful to me.

In 2007, at age 41 (I'm 53 now) I had a cardio cath done because I had some strange throat sensations and elevated troponin levels. The cath showed only minor calcification. My cardiologist at the time called them bumps n grooves. They were not sure how to diagnose me, but I was put on 10 MG of atorvastatin and aspirin therapy.

I have also been diagnosed (at age 14) with Mitral Valve Prolapse. As a result, I see a cardiologist bi-yearly for EKG, and Echocardiogram. Over the years, the murmur associated with my MVP has gotten really hard to hear, and I only have mild regurgitation.

In October, at my regular cardiologist appointment, I mentioned that I had a family history of atherosclerosis, and that my father and his father and his father have all had heart attacks. My father is still alive, but had double bypass. She said that since I had a negative EKG stress test in April of 2017 with no symptoms, there was no need for additional testing. She said that I could get a cardiac CT scan to see what my calcification score was. If it was abnormal, then she would do additional testing.

A month later, I had the test, and my score was 2744. Needless to say, I was stunned by the news. The first thing I did was try to educate myself by looking on the web for high calcification scores. I found this thread, and was intrigued/encouraged by the posters who said that their high scores were due to calcium within the walls of their coronary arteries. I kind of clung to that hope, but was soon deflated.

My cardiologist ordered a nuclear treadmill test which I did a week later. I felt fine as I am in reasonably good shape. They called me the next day and said that it was abnormal, and that I had restricted blood flow in the right side. This news obliterated me, and I fell into a kind of depressed state. I simply could not understand how I went from bumps n grooves to at least 70% blockage in 12 years.

I had a cardio cath on the day after Christmas, and to just about everyone's surprise, my coronary arteries showed mild plaque (two spots that were 20-30%), but nothing that they needed to treat with stents. So, they increased my statin to 40, and I am going to try and eat better and take some supplements like fish oil.

The whole experience was pretty traumatizing, but it had a happy ending, and I at least have peace of mind. The cardiologist that did the procedure said that the calcium that was picked up on the CT scan was within the walls of my arteries. He also said that false positives happen all the time on nuclear stress tests. Something about the diaphragm interfering. The fact that I had two false positives is stunning to me, and I still cant believe it happened.

I guess life goes on. 🙂

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@skypigg– Welcome aboard and so glad you found us! Quite the roller coaster you've been on! @bluesdoc– also been following you in your journey and would welcome any feedback you have on any of this.
All this CAC score posts have got me interested in getting mine done very soon. Back in 2014 I suffered a major HA w/o any real warning. I was eating well and exercising 1.5 hrs. 3x a week at the time. I was still working and would work out from 12:30 – 2:00 and after working out would come home to clean up and have a light lunch. This day was no different than any of the past and as I arrived home and was about to sit down for lunch I began to feel flush and a bit uneasy. I told my wife I wasn't feeling well and took a seat in the LR. Things progressed quickly with all the typical signs you read about when youre having a HA. I decided to chew on several low dose aspirins and we decided to drive up to the ER about a 20 min. drive. That was a real mistake! About a 1/3 of the way I was experiencing extreme pain and felt like I was going to pass out any moment. Once we arrived even though I went directly to the ER they started asking me all about billing questions until I finally in tears & incredible pain told the person I was having a HA!
They rushed me into a room right away and after the nurses tried to attend to my pain and make me comfortable a cardiologist entered and administered several tests. For some strange reason I was not "presenting" any real signs that I was having a HA?
The Dr. told my wife that they planned on admitting me and would probably do a stress test in the morning. I had now been there over 2 hrs. My wife decided to go home so she could grab a few things and text some friends about what was up and to pray!
Soon after a Echo Tech arrived and began to administer the procedure and after about 15 minutes he left the room and returned with the Cardiologist. Things moved rather quickly at this point and I barely had time to get a call off to my wife to let her know they were wheeling me off to the Cath Lab. After now being there for 4 hrs. I received a single stent for a 100% blockage in my LAD.
I was soon wheeled into a room and one of the accompanying Drs. told me how fortunate I was because I had survived the "Widow Maker"! I tell you this story only to say that I never had any warning signs other than high cholesterol that I was taking a 40 mg generic for Lipitor. No family history of HA's. One of the consequences of this was a low EF (ejection fraction) of 35.
My Cardiologist told me that often we grow added blood vessels over the next year and that the EF improves.
Since I went through Cardiac rehab and then back to my workouts I planned to do everything I could to improve upon my EF.
A year later they did another Echo and the Cardiologist told me there was no improvement. I was totally bumed!
2 years later this was still weighing on me. I felt great and continued to eat well and exercise. Since I was on the Mayo site I decided to make a appt. in Scottsdale AZ. that spring of 17 for a 2nd opinion. I was scheduled for a whole series of tests which ended with a Stress Echo. The Cardiologist that I was working with was there for all the tests and in the room the whole time the Echo was being administered. It was like having a coach on my side encouraginging me to push myself while he looked at 2 monitors.
In my cardio at the gym I could never break 137 bpm mostly because being on a Beta Blocker, but the Dr. was asking can I go higher and I pushed my self even harder. We ended with the tredmill at a incline of 14 and a speed of about 6. something and 155 bpm.
They got excellent pictures and I met with the Cardiolgist about a hr. later. He told me he would need to do some more work, but he felt based on what he saw that my EF was more in the mid 40's. 2 weeks later I received a personal email from him saying that I was at a EF of 47. I was elated!! He put me on Rosuvastatin 20 mg. in hopes to bring my LDL down below 70. I was at 87 at that time.
Six months later I had new blood work and my LDL was a 65.
I plan to return to the Mayo this spring for a CAC test and am hoping for the best!
Jim @thankful

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We've made a lot of progress in the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease, but Coronary Calcium Scores remain a wild card. I read an article recently that suggested that suggested that lifelong athletes tend to have higher CAC, but that it resides inside the artery wall so doesn't block blood flow. Who knows? There seem to be so many variables to calcium buildup, like location, dense vs spotty, soft vs hard, vessel size, collateral circulation, etc.

Bluesdoc hit the nail on the head with surgical precision by saying that we all need to chill and do our best to prevent a heart attack. As an aside, I read a book, "Heart: A History" by the cardiologist Sandeep Jauhar, that I recommend. He mentions in the book that he has a high CAC score and an increased risk due to his family history and South Asian ethnicity.

Liked by skypigg

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@tim1028

We've made a lot of progress in the diagnosis and treatment of heart disease, but Coronary Calcium Scores remain a wild card. I read an article recently that suggested that suggested that lifelong athletes tend to have higher CAC, but that it resides inside the artery wall so doesn't block blood flow. Who knows? There seem to be so many variables to calcium buildup, like location, dense vs spotty, soft vs hard, vessel size, collateral circulation, etc.

Bluesdoc hit the nail on the head with surgical precision by saying that we all need to chill and do our best to prevent a heart attack. As an aside, I read a book, "Heart: A History" by the cardiologist Sandeep Jauhar, that I recommend. He mentions in the book that he has a high CAC score and an increased risk due to his family history and South Asian ethnicity.

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I did some additional tests that relate to heart disease risk, homocysteine, hsCRP and Lipoprotein A. The first two are normal, but the LpA is high (117), which, according to the Lipoprotein Foundation puts one at a higher risk of heart disease. Anyone else have these tests performed?

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@luckyg

I just found this group today. Ten years ago when I was 73 I found out I have a calcium score of 2274. I will be 84 years old next week. I feel fine and have had no heart related problems. That's why my user name is LuckyG. I am on a statin and a 325 aspirin every day and I try to limit my saturated fat intake and keep my weight down, When I first found out I was scared to death but I don't think about it much at this point. Good luck. Gary

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statin is usually to control cholestrol…high calcium suggests parathyroid problems…one of the four parathroids is usually swollen and not working..straight forward operation although age maybe an issue…your 325mg aspirin is high and might be for other issues

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