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Heart CT Calcium Scoring Program

Heart CT Calcium ScoringCardiac calcium scoring is one of the simplest, yet most advanced methods to detect heart disease at its earliest stages. It's a painless test and it's available at the Imaging Center at Lowell General Hospital's Chelmsford Campus.

The first sign of coronary artery disease is calcification - calcium deposits in plaque on the walls of your arteries. Using high-speed computerized tomography (CT), the measurement of plaque and calcification produces a cardiac calcium score that quantifies your level of deposits and the risk of having a sudden cardiac event, such as a heart attack. If there is no plaque, the score and the risk are very low. If plaque is present and the calcium score is high, the risk of disease is higher.

Calcium scoring does more than identify the likelihood of a heart attack, it can help prevent one. Richard Birkhead, MD, chief of cardiology at Lowell General Hospital explains, "Your physician will consider the score along with the risk factors such as age, family history, cholesterol level, diabetes, high blood pressure, weight and tobacco use. The score then provides valuable guidance about how aggressive you should be about prevention, which we call primary risk reduction."

Since coronary artery disease doesn't often have symptoms until an episode occurs, a cardiac calcium score can help identify those who could benefit from preventive evaluation and treatment.

"This test isn't for everyone," Dr. Birkhead stresses. "If you have no risk factors for coronary heart disease, this test isn't useful. But if you're at intermediate risk - for example you have high cholesterol or blood pressure, or a family history of heart disease - it can help your doctor determine the most appropriate preventive strategies."

Patients can request this test without a referral and it is a self-paid exam. "By empowering patients to directly access cardiac calcium scoring, they can be more proactive in identifying their risk for sudden heart attack," Dr. Birkhead says. "If more people are aware and being more aggressive about primary risk reduction, maybe there will be less heart disease in the future.

Find out how to schedule a Heart CT Calcium Score Scan.

Print our Calcium Scoring Brochure for more information.

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