Bay Area Heart

What is a Calcium Score and Why is it Important for Your Heart Health?

What is a Calcium Score?

A calcium score, also known as a coronary artery calcium (CAC) scan, is a non-invasive test that measures the amount of calcium in the walls of your coronary arteries. The coronary arteries are the blood vessels that supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle. Calcium is a sign of plaque buildup, which can narrow or block your arteries and increase your risk of heart attack or stroke.

What are Normal and Abnormal Values?

A calcium score is expressed as a number that ranges from 0 to over 400. The higher the
score, the more calcium and plaque you have in your coronary arteries. A score of:

Calcium Score Risk Level
No identifiable plaque. Very low risk of heart disease.
Minimal plaque. Very low risk of heart disease.
Mild plaque. Low to moderate risk of heart disease.
Moderate plaque. Moderate to high risk of heart disease.
Over 400
Extensive plaque. High to very high risk of heart disease.

What is the Testing Protocol?

A calcium score test is done with a special type of X-ray machine called a computed tomography (CT) scanner. The test takes about 10 to 15 minutes and does not require any preparation. You will lie on a table that slides into the scanner, which will take pictures of your heart from different angles. You may be asked to hold your breath for a few seconds during the scan. The images will be analyzed by a computer and a radiologist, who will calculate your calcium score.

What are the Patient Instructions?

Before the test, you should inform your doctor if you are pregnant, have any metal implants, or have any allergies to contrast dye. You should also avoid caffeine and smoking for at least four hours before the test. You should wear comfortable clothing and remove any jewelry or metal objects from your chest area. After the test, you can resume your normal activities and diet. You should discuss your results with your doctor, who may recommend further tests or treatments based on your calcium score and other risk factors.

How is the Interpretation Done?

The interpretation of your calcium score is based on your age, gender, and ethnicity, as well as your personal and family history of heart disease, your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and smoking status. Your doctor will use your calcium score and other information to estimate your 10-year risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Depending on your risk level, your doctor may advise you to make lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and managing stress. Your doctor may also recommend that you repeat the calcium score test every few years to monitor your progress.

Examples of Calcium Score Images

Here are some examples of calcium score images from a CT scan. The white spots indicate the presence of calcium in the coronary arteries. The more white spots, the higher the calcium score and the higher the risk of heart disease.

Get Your Calcium Score Test at Bay Area Heart

If you are interested in knowing your calcium score and your risk of heart disease, you can get your test done at Bay Area Heart, a leading cardiology practice in the Bay Area. We offer the calcium score test for only $99, which is much lower than the average cost of $200 to $400. We have a team of experienced and compassionate cardiologists who will guide you through the test and help you understand your results. We also provide personalized and comprehensive care for all your heart health needs. To schedule your calcium score test, call us at (832) 905-5940 or visit our website at