A type of imaging called computed tomography or multidetector computed tomography (MDCT) can find coronary atherosclerosis before it becomes advanced.
A cardiac CT (computed tomography) scan can show calcified plaque deposits in your coronary arteries. This is called a coronary artery calcium (CAC) test, which looks at:
- How many deposits you have.
- How dense the deposits are.
- How large they are.
Your healthcare provider will multiply your calcification area by its density to get an Agatston score. You get a score of 0 to 400 or more, with higher scores indicating a larger risk of a heart attack or stroke in 10 years.
Providers have found the CAC test accurately predicts future cardiovascular risk.
You may have to pay for this test out of your own pocket.
Coronary artery calcification scores
- A score of 0 shows no disease.
- From 1 to 99 indicates mild disease.
- From 100 to 399 shows moderate disease.
- More than 400 shows severe disease.
More invasive methods to check your coronary artery calcification include:
- Cardiac intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) gives you a result from Class I to Class IV, with the fourth class describing the most severe calcification. For IVUS, your healthcare provider uses an ultrasound wand at the end of a catheter (tube) to see the inside of your coronary arteries.
- Intravascular optical coherence tomography (IVOCT) can show you how much calcification you have and how thick it is. It uses near-infrared light to create images from inside your coronary artery. A probe on a catheter sends out the light and detects it.