I am a 48 year old female. I had a heart scan completed (June 07) which resulted in a calcium score of 2977. Needless to say, that the personnel had me terrified and in tears when I left their office sure that I was going to have a heart attack at any moment. Since the scan, I have had an angiogram which indicated 0 blockages (2 days after scan!). The doctor commented that my arteries looked very good. This past month I had my first echo-stress test. The doctor again saw 0 blockages and a normal functioning heart.
My father had his first heart attack at age 46 and a fatal one at age 50. My brother, age 49, just had a small heart attack last year. Both my father and brother smoked. I quit smoking 10 years ago and took up running. Due to family history, my cardiologist has placed me on 10 mg Zocor and 81 mg aspirin each day.
Do you have any insight into why my calcium score is so high and no blockages can be found? Thanks so much for your time. Twila
*****FROM ABC NEWS MEDICAL UNIT*****
Hi Rockette01 and thank you for your question. Here is an answer to your question from Dr. James Stein, director of preventive cardiology for UW Hospital and Clinics:
I am sorry that you were so terrified by this experience. Hopefully with a little better understanding of how this happened, you can continue on the road to improving the health of your arteries. A calcium score of 2977 is very high, but it is important to realize that it is does not mean you have blockages, as you found out from your angiogram. It means your coronary arteries (the arteries that supply the heart with blood) have been injured and have calcified, as a response to the injury. You appear have an earlier stage of atherosclerosis (the damage and hardening of the arteries that can lead to heart attacks) than a blockage that requires surgery or stenting. If the information you provided is correct, the disease is in the wall of artery, but has not started to narrow the arteries to a major extent. But it is just as important for two reasons. First, minor areas of artery injury can still lead to heart attacks, and second, minor areas of blockage eventually lead to major blockages. This is why your doctor is treating you with cholesterol medications and aspirin. If your heart muscle is strong and getting enough blood, that is very good. Your main goal now is to keep it that way, by carefully controlling your cholesterol values, your blood pressure, exercising and eating properly, as well as avoiding tobacco-containing products or second hand smoke.