Coronary calcification refers to the build-up of calcified plaque within the walls of the coronary arteries. This can detect early stage of atherosclerosis (build-up of plaque in the arteries) and coronary artery disease.
What causes coronary calcification?
Arteries are blood vessels that move oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. In the early stages of arterial disease, the lining of the arteries becomes inflamed, allowing plaque (made up of fat, cholesterol, calcium and fibrous tissue) to form on the wall of the artery.
Calcium build-up is one of the best ways to detect the beginning of atherosclerosis.
Symptoms of coronary calcification
Often, coronary calcification will not cause any symptoms or pain. Annual exams are important to catch and treat coronary calcification, especially if you’re high risk for heart disease.
How is coronary calcification diagnosed?
Your doctor will look for specks of calcium in the walls of the coronary arteries using a multislice computerized tomography, helical computed tomography or electron beam tomography to scan for coronary calcium.
How is coronary calcification treated?
You can minimize buildup of plaque by making lifestyle changes, including:
- Following a healthy diet
- Quitting smoking
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Taking medication including cholesterol-lowering agents, one coated 81 mg aspirin daily and medication to control blood pressure