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Living Well

Cardiac Calcium Scoring

Last updated: Feb 08, 2012


Did you know that you can be at risk for a heart attack but have no symptoms to warn you? The good new is that a simple, painless, and quick (10-minute) test known as coronary artery calcium socring can tell your doctor and you about your risk for heart attack!

Convenient and relatively inexpensive, cardiac calcium scoring (also known as coronary artery calcium scoring) is a highly accurate way for your doctor to see plaque in the arteries around your heart. The test also allows your cardiologist to determine the stage and severity of your heart disease and create an effective treatment plan to protect you from a heart attack.

 If you have heart disease, 
cardiac calcium scoring can help keep you from having a heart attack.
It might even save your life! 

Your cardiologist will review your risk factors
and tell you whether you should have cardiac calcium scoring. 


You might be at risk for heart disease if you:

  • Are age 45 or older if you are a man
  • Are age 55 or older if you are a woman
  • Have a family history of heart disease
  • Have high cholesterol
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Smoke
  • Have diabetes
  • Are inactive
  • Are overweight or obese
  • Eat an unhealthy diet
  • Experience excessive stress

Most people who are at risk for heart disease have more than one risk factor.

Symptoms of heart disease include but are not limited to:

  • Chest pain (also known as angina)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain and swelling in the legs when walking (also known as claudication)

You should see your doctor immediately
if you have risks for or symptoms of heart disease!

Heart Attack Symptoms
Heart attack symptoms can be similar to symptoms with other health problems. In addition, people do not always experience the same symptoms. For example, a woman having a heart attack might experience neck and arm pain, whereas a man might feel great pressure on his chest.

Chest Pain (Angina)
Chest pain or angina is often described as:

  • Tightness in the chest
  • Pressure on the chest
  • Squeezing or vice-like pain on or around the chest
  • Pain in the upper body
  • Pain in one or both arms
  • Pain in the neck, back, and jaw
  • Stomach indigestion and heartburn

You might experience chest pain or angina if your heart muscle isn't getting enough oxygen. Angina often occurs during physical activity and then subsides when you rest; however, some chest pain associated with heart disease can occur even when you are resting (unstable angina). If you have chest pain even when you are resting, it is very serious. Some people have angina for many days or even months before they have a heart attack.

You should see your cardiologist immediately
if you are experiencing chest pain of any kind

Call 911 for emergency help if you are:

  • Having chest pain at rest
  • Having chest pain that continues after you stop an activity and rest
  • Experiencing chest pain that worsens or goes away and quickly recurs
  • Feeling nauseous or lightheaded
  • Short of breath
  • Sweaty, clammy

Shortness of Breath
Shortness of breath is often associated with heart failure. Heart failure means your heart cannot pump adequately. When your heart cannot pump your blood as it should, the blood backs up and congests your veins, tissues, and lungs with fluid — a condition that makes it difficult to breathe. Heart failure usually begins gradually and gets worse if it's not treated.

You might be experiencing heart failure if you:

  • Feel breathless going up stairs
  • Feel breathless when you are walking
  • Become out of breath more easily each day, with even less activity
  • Need to sit or be propped up in bed to breathe
  • Feel nauseous or lightheaded
  • Feel sweaty, clammy

See your doctor immediately if you have sudden shortness of breath
even without other symptoms.

Swelling (Edema) in the Legs and Feet
It is important to know whether fluid (swelling) in your legs is a result of heart or other problems.

See your doctor immediately if you have other symptoms of heart attack
and your legs, ankles, and feet are swollen.

Pain in the Legs When Walking (Claudication)
If your calf muscles ache when you walk and stop aching soon after you rest, you might have heart and blood vessel disease. Pain from heart and blood vessel disease means your leg muscles aren't getting enough oxygen because your arteries are blocked. If the arteries in your legs are blocked, the arteries around your heart (coronary arteries) also might be blocked.

See your cardiologist immediately if your legs ache and are painful when you walk.

If you have signs of heart disease or symptoms of heart attack, your cardiologist will discuss important lifestyle changes to lower your risk for heart disease, heart attack, and other heart problems. He or she also might prescribe effective medication to lower your risk for heart attack.

Steps you can take to lower your risk for heart disease and heart attack:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Eat a low-fat diet
  • Be active, exercise regularly
  • Don't smoke
  • Maintain healthy blood sugar


 If you have heart disease,
cardiac calcium scoring can help prevent a heart attack.
It might even save your life!  


If you're interested in knowing whether you have heart disease and are at risk for a heart attack,
call us today at 908-277-8800
to schedule an appointment for cardiac calcium scoring.
Summit Medical Group Cardiology offers cardiac calcium scoring for $199.


In addition to calcium scoring, healthy
dietary/lifestyle habits and regular
checkups with your Summit Medical Group
cardiologist can help you protect your

For more information about our full range of cardiology services
or to schedule an appointment with one of our board-certified cardiologists,
please call Summit Medical Group Cardiology at 908-273-4300.