Coronary Artery Calcium Scoring (CACS) Warns of Heart Disease Risk

A five-minute test is giving patients valuable insight into their five-year heart disease risk. The procedure is called Coronary Artery Calcium Scoring – or CACS for short – and based on your age and gender, it can tell you how likely you are to get coronary artery disease in the next five years.

The quick CACS procedure

For the test, you rest on your back while a technologist hooks three electrodes to your chest. Once you slide into the CT scanner, you have two quick pictures taken and you’re finished. The CT scanner sees hard plaque, which is calcified and a marker for underlying heart disease. Radiologists, Dr. Thomas Sullivan and Dr. Steven Pollei, look at the scanned images for signs of calcifications. “One of the markers for heart disease is calcification within the blood vessel,” Dr. Pollei explains. “And so, with a non-invasive, five-minute test we can actual measure how much calcification you have in your coronary arteries in your heart.”

Do I need a CACS scan?

The best candidates for a CACS have one or more of these heart disease risk factors:

  • High cholesterol
  • Significant hypertension
  • Long-term diabetes
  • Family member who has had a heart attack

The results of the test can help guide your decisions to change diet, activity level, consider statin drugs, consider stenting or get additional diagnostic imaging.