Why is Cardiovascular Risk assessment important?

Coronary artery disease is a common condition that develops over decades within the blood vessels that supply oxygen to your heart. Atherosclerotic plaques cause narrowing and in severe cases blockages to the vessels, leading to you experiencing chest pain and if the plaque ruptures a heart attack. It can take years to develop significant narrowing, but you can make changes at anytime which can slow the progression what’s happening in your vessels.

Your lifestyle choices, modifiable risk factors, other medical conditions and family history all contribute to your future risk of experiencing a heart attack. By understanding your risk, you and your doctor can make a plan to help you reduce your future risk of experiencing a heart attack.

A coronary artery calcium score can be used to give you a personalised estimation of your heart attack risk.

A short CT scan measures the amount of calcified plaque (calcium) inside the walls of the of your heart’s blood vessels.


What is the role of a calcium score in calculating my heart attack risk?

If you have no symptoms of coronary artery disease but are concerned about your heart health, the first step to assessing your risk of a heart attack is to use a risk calculator. These calculators estimate your 5-year risk based on your age, weight, family history, smoking status and other medical conditions including your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Risk calculators only provide an estimate of your risk, they can under or overestimate your actual risk. If you are defined as low to intermediate risk of a future event a calcium score might be suggested to give you a personalised risk assessment. This means your doctor can put you on the most suitable management plan based on what’s happening in your blood vessels.

What does my Calcium Score mean?

A calcium score provides a measure of the amount of calcified plaque that has built up over time in the walls of the blood vessels in your heart.

A proven predictive test to rule out future risk, a score of 0 is highly predictive that your risk over the next 5 years is very low.

If you have a positive calcium score the higher the value, the greater your risk of experiencing a heart attack in the next 5 years.

Your doctors will use your score to develop a management plan for you and suggest medications such as statins or other primary prevention strategies.

How do I access a Calcium Score?

Everyone over 40 (or 30 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders) with no symptoms of coronary artery disease should speak to their GP about a heart health check. If you have been found to be at low to intermediate risk during your heart health check your doctor may referrer you for a calcium score. CT coronary calcium scores are available through most radiology providers. We have partnered with Apex radiology to provide a CV risk assessment clinic which combines a CT calcium score with a consultation with one of our cardiologists.

When was your last check up?

If you are concerned about your heart health, see your GP to check your cholesterol levels and have a full heart health check.