High Calcium Score

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.

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@dpframing

The angiogram is the best thing out there to check for CAD. Painless – I fell asleep during mine and woke up wen it was over. It’s a movie of how much narrowing or blockages there are in the coronary srteries

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@dpframing They administer an IV for contrast? Is it some kind of CT scan or something else entirely?

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I had a stress test with echocardiogram yesterday. I was on the treadmill for 11.5 minutes and reached my maximum calculated heart rate of 151. That eases my mind. I have a follow-up appointment with my pcp on Monday to review the results and decide on a treatment plan.

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Hello. New to group. 58 year old male. My primary Dr. had me take the CT heart scan because my cholesterol was high. Actually my bad was high but my good and triglycerides were very good. In other words, my ratios were excellent. I do eat a lot of dairy up till two days ago. Other than that, I eat pretty well. I've worked out most of my life and keep my weight and waist at high school levels. I'm 5'9" and weigh 157. Father had heart issues including two valve transplants and passed away at 75 when we believe a stent may have dislodged a few days after surgery. Expected to see a score of 0, but shocked to see a score of 510. Also, according to Dr. most of the calcium is in the artery they call the window maker and I've been advised to get a nuclear stress test to pin point it. I went on 10mg of Crestor and a baby aspirin yesterday. Something I said I would never do.
What I'm reading here that is very concerning is that everyone seems to be saying the same thing. That even though they are doing everything possible including exercise (which, by the way, most people in this country rarely do) , diet and statins, it's not changing anything with regard to the calcium score. In fact, it almost seems the opposite. All the scores seemed to have only increased doing the right thing. Has anyone had any positive results at all from the treatment and lifestyle changes? Has anyone actually seen there score at least stay the same? Like everyone else, I feel like a walking time bomb. One more note, blood pressure 105/77. EKG always fine. No symptoms at all. Thanks for your anticipated input.

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@ochip

Hello. New to group. 58 year old male. My primary Dr. had me take the CT heart scan because my cholesterol was high. Actually my bad was high but my good and triglycerides were very good. In other words, my ratios were excellent. I do eat a lot of dairy up till two days ago. Other than that, I eat pretty well. I've worked out most of my life and keep my weight and waist at high school levels. I'm 5'9" and weigh 157. Father had heart issues including two valve transplants and passed away at 75 when we believe a stent may have dislodged a few days after surgery. Expected to see a score of 0, but shocked to see a score of 510. Also, according to Dr. most of the calcium is in the artery they call the window maker and I've been advised to get a nuclear stress test to pin point it. I went on 10mg of Crestor and a baby aspirin yesterday. Something I said I would never do.
What I'm reading here that is very concerning is that everyone seems to be saying the same thing. That even though they are doing everything possible including exercise (which, by the way, most people in this country rarely do) , diet and statins, it's not changing anything with regard to the calcium score. In fact, it almost seems the opposite. All the scores seemed to have only increased doing the right thing. Has anyone had any positive results at all from the treatment and lifestyle changes? Has anyone actually seen there score at least stay the same? Like everyone else, I feel like a walking time bomb. One more note, blood pressure 105/77. EKG always fine. No symptoms at all. Thanks for your anticipated input.

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hi @ochip

All of the lifestyle changes and meds are meant to reduce your risks of having a cardiac event, they have no bearing on lowering the calcium score. Actually once you are diagnosed with CAD due to a high calcium score there is little merit in repeated CT tests. Just as important as your total score is where you are in percentile for your age group. Just concentrate on controlling the factors that are within your power and be vigilant.

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@keithl56

hi @ochip

All of the lifestyle changes and meds are meant to reduce your risks of having a cardiac event, they have no bearing on lowering the calcium score. Actually once you are diagnosed with CAD due to a high calcium score there is little merit in repeated CT tests. Just as important as your total score is where you are in percentile for your age group. Just concentrate on controlling the factors that are within your power and be vigilant.

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Thank you Keith. @keith156. I'm just having a hard time understanding this. The higher your score, the greater chance of having an event. All the control factors, including eating right, controlling weight, exercising and taking medication have no affect at all on your score and in all the cases mentioned above, the score will continue to increase over time which just means your risk will only increase over time compared to your peers. One would think that if a high score was caused by bad habits before, that completely changing those habits would, at least, stop things from getting worse.

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@ochip

Hello. New to group. 58 year old male. My primary Dr. had me take the CT heart scan because my cholesterol was high. Actually my bad was high but my good and triglycerides were very good. In other words, my ratios were excellent. I do eat a lot of dairy up till two days ago. Other than that, I eat pretty well. I've worked out most of my life and keep my weight and waist at high school levels. I'm 5'9" and weigh 157. Father had heart issues including two valve transplants and passed away at 75 when we believe a stent may have dislodged a few days after surgery. Expected to see a score of 0, but shocked to see a score of 510. Also, according to Dr. most of the calcium is in the artery they call the window maker and I've been advised to get a nuclear stress test to pin point it. I went on 10mg of Crestor and a baby aspirin yesterday. Something I said I would never do.
What I'm reading here that is very concerning is that everyone seems to be saying the same thing. That even though they are doing everything possible including exercise (which, by the way, most people in this country rarely do) , diet and statins, it's not changing anything with regard to the calcium score. In fact, it almost seems the opposite. All the scores seemed to have only increased doing the right thing. Has anyone had any positive results at all from the treatment and lifestyle changes? Has anyone actually seen there score at least stay the same? Like everyone else, I feel like a walking time bomb. One more note, blood pressure 105/77. EKG always fine. No symptoms at all. Thanks for your anticipated input.

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Hello chip. Wish my score was 510 instead of 2500. Iam 75 years old and have been on satins for 10 years. Hdl is 78,ldl is 72 and tri is 60. Had all test,necular stress test scored 13 Mets,which means I performed equal to a 24 year old. Even with this high score,my blood flow in the three main arteries is 91%,87% and 87%. My heart function is 68%, which is very good for a 75 year old man. My doctor says that my performance is credited to my active lifestyle. I go to gym everyday for about 90 minutes of strenuous exercise. I never stop for the entire time there,either doing aerobics or weights. I no longer eat red meat,fried foods so very few sweets. Doc says my arteries have expanded to keep blood flow pumping. I average 22,000 steps a day on my Fitbit,which is about 12 miles. Hope this helps,I feel exercise is key. Good luck.

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@botexas

Hello chip. Wish my score was 510 instead of 2500. Iam 75 years old and have been on satins for 10 years. Hdl is 78,ldl is 72 and tri is 60. Had all test,necular stress test scored 13 Mets,which means I performed equal to a 24 year old. Even with this high score,my blood flow in the three main arteries is 91%,87% and 87%. My heart function is 68%, which is very good for a 75 year old man. My doctor says that my performance is credited to my active lifestyle. I go to gym everyday for about 90 minutes of strenuous exercise. I never stop for the entire time there,either doing aerobics or weights. I no longer eat red meat,fried foods so very few sweets. Doc says my arteries have expanded to keep blood flow pumping. I average 22,000 steps a day on my Fitbit,which is about 12 miles. Hope this helps,I feel exercise is key. Good luck.

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@ochip what testing was done to show blood flow in the arteries? That's what I'm trying to get my cardiologist to set up for me but she says as long as I've never had symptoms she sees no reason. I'm like you: 2316 score but have been exercising all my life, mountaineering, bicycling in the Rockies – the gym the whole enchilada so to speak. As soon as I got my score I wrote a good bye letter to my wife thinking that the end is nigh.. But I don't feel that way anymore.

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@nyartist

@ochip what testing was done to show blood flow in the arteries? That's what I'm trying to get my cardiologist to set up for me but she says as long as I've never had symptoms she sees no reason. I'm like you: 2316 score but have been exercising all my life, mountaineering, bicycling in the Rockies – the gym the whole enchilada so to speak. As soon as I got my score I wrote a good bye letter to my wife thinking that the end is nigh.. But I don't feel that way anymore.

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2996 calcium score. I said I had chest pain and I got the angiogram done. Calcium was in the artery walls/ so blood flow is not restricted to the ticker. The scores are exact but not absolute.There is alot of wiggle room in predicting an event. I was told to drop 30 and eat right , stay on statins and BP meds, and stay active (exercise) i.e. – live a healthy life. The rest we leave up to fate. Is she a beautiful siren in the night, or a siren in the night going to the ER😊❓❓

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@mcphee Everybody is so concerened about high calcium score let me tell you ,ll In 1996 I had a triple by pass 85%,90%95,% blockage in arteries Before surgery my symptoms where sweating shortness of breath ,couldn't work in heat Id pass out and chest pain Ive been fighting high cholesterol since then on statins didn't keep it down mine is hereditary 2yrs ago I had a chemical stress test showing my heart is fine I exercise,eat right no junk food try to stay away from sweets Emotions affect your health if your going to constantly worry about this it will happen probably .Be happy live your life and God will take care of everything else.

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@dpframing

2996 calcium score. I said I had chest pain and I got the angiogram done. Calcium was in the artery walls/ so blood flow is not restricted to the ticker. The scores are exact but not absolute.There is alot of wiggle room in predicting an event. I was told to drop 30 and eat right , stay on statins and BP meds, and stay active (exercise) i.e. – live a healthy life. The rest we leave up to fate. Is she a beautiful siren in the night, or a siren in the night going to the ER😊❓❓

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Newbie here. I'm, for better or worse, an MD (ex ER, now hospitalist), been a health freak all my life, now age 72. Minimal to no risk factors until late 60s when my BP crept up to need-to-treat levels. Exercised all my life. I developed paroxysmal atrial fib 3+ years ago so I had a workup that included a CC score. I was blown away to find out it was over 2200. wtf?? Normal perfusion, treadmill, no exercise intolerance. I would have gotten an angiogram or coronary CT angio but I have a really bad reaction to IV contrast, so I won't do that unless I'm in a life threatening situation. I'd been on coumadin for 5 years for an unrelated malady (in addition to atrial fibrillation) and switched to a non-coumadin anticoagulant and took advantage of this to take large doses of Vit K (plays a role in moving vascular calcium to bone). I also started a statin. Game plan was to recheck my CC score in 3 years, which was this past summer. The new level was over 2600. ugghhh. Like many of you, I've felt like a walking time bomb. My cardiologist and other docs acknowledge that levels like ours are not well understood. btw, my atrial fibrillation was obliterated with 2 atrial ablations. At this point, I'm assuming that this calcium is mostly NOT in the intima (inside) of the vessel in plaque but is either medial (muscle layer of the arteries) or otherwise more external to the flow. That is, it is NOT highly correlated with plaque. I'd like to believe that anyway. In the meantime, I do what most of you do – I work out, take my statin (which seems to work very well), eat as reasonably as I can and, as my cardiologist suggested to me, carpe diem. An additional consideration for me is that I have chronic/late stage Lyme disease and have had cardiac involvement. My lyme guru doc suspects it's calcified Lyme biofilm. More oh well…….

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@bluesdoc

Newbie here. I'm, for better or worse, an MD (ex ER, now hospitalist), been a health freak all my life, now age 72. Minimal to no risk factors until late 60s when my BP crept up to need-to-treat levels. Exercised all my life. I developed paroxysmal atrial fib 3+ years ago so I had a workup that included a CC score. I was blown away to find out it was over 2200. wtf?? Normal perfusion, treadmill, no exercise intolerance. I would have gotten an angiogram or coronary CT angio but I have a really bad reaction to IV contrast, so I won't do that unless I'm in a life threatening situation. I'd been on coumadin for 5 years for an unrelated malady (in addition to atrial fibrillation) and switched to a non-coumadin anticoagulant and took advantage of this to take large doses of Vit K (plays a role in moving vascular calcium to bone). I also started a statin. Game plan was to recheck my CC score in 3 years, which was this past summer. The new level was over 2600. ugghhh. Like many of you, I've felt like a walking time bomb. My cardiologist and other docs acknowledge that levels like ours are not well understood. btw, my atrial fibrillation was obliterated with 2 atrial ablations. At this point, I'm assuming that this calcium is mostly NOT in the intima (inside) of the vessel in plaque but is either medial (muscle layer of the arteries) or otherwise more external to the flow. That is, it is NOT highly correlated with plaque. I'd like to believe that anyway. In the meantime, I do what most of you do – I work out, take my statin (which seems to work very well), eat as reasonably as I can and, as my cardiologist suggested to me, carpe diem. An additional consideration for me is that I have chronic/late stage Lyme disease and have had cardiac involvement. My lyme guru doc suspects it's calcified Lyme biofilm. More oh well…….

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@bluesdoc, I'm sure that I'm one of hundreds who are glad to welcome you to Mayo Connect and hope you can be with us for a long time. Can you help me understand how a statin is beneficial to a person with a high-calcium score in the arteries? Martin

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@predictable

@bluesdoc, I'm sure that I'm one of hundreds who are glad to welcome you to Mayo Connect and hope you can be with us for a long time. Can you help me understand how a statin is beneficial to a person with a high-calcium score in the arteries? Martin

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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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@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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Thanks @bluesdoc. That sounds to me as though statins would be most helpful to young people whose cholesterol is not yet blocking crucial arteries. I'm curious mainly because so many people with calcium problems report that their cardiologist just routinely added a statin. I'm also resisting it, because there is some good research showing that advanced-age seniors lose some memory thanks to statins. Again, glad you're on board. Martin

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@predictable

Thanks @bluesdoc. That sounds to me as though statins would be most helpful to young people whose cholesterol is not yet blocking crucial arteries. I'm curious mainly because so many people with calcium problems report that their cardiologist just routinely added a statin. I'm also resisting it, because there is some good research showing that advanced-age seniors lose some memory thanks to statins. Again, glad you're on board. Martin

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Well, everyone's different. Taking high dose CoQ10 with statins is important. For a study of n=1, in the three+ years I've been on it, it's had no impact on my cerebral function. I work in a highly challenging environment and have to make scores to hundreds of critical decisions a day. So far, so good. (Of course, it might be because of my music sideline, or working out a lot…. or genes? who knows…..) Thanks again for the kind greeting Martin.

There's something clearly amiss about our cohort – the way we're categorized by the cardiology community. I think they project risk in some sort of linear fashion from the levels clearly associated with those risks, ie, the low/mid hundreds. You'd think that if this were the case, we'd all be cardiac cripples with our high levels. But clearly, many of us are not. So, I suspect that very high CC scores could represent, in some cohort, a different pathophysiology than plain old calcifying intimal atheroma. This begs the question, what are we in store for, if not an early cardiac demise? I can't believe it's benign to have our vessels turn to stone, but how does that play out clinically? I don't know.

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