A new procedure at Bristol Regional Medical Center is helping physicians assess a patient’s risk for heart attack.

Coronary Artery Calcification Scoring measures the amount of calcium present in a patient’s coronary arteries. Research has shown calcium buildups in the coronary arteries – the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle ­– can indicate the presence of significant heart disease.

“When abnormal material such as calcium builds up in the wall of a coronary artery, it can cause the artery to narrow or even be blocked entirely,” said Terrell Estes, MD, a radiologist at BRMC. “This partial or complete blockage may cause portions of the heart muscle to be injured or even destroyed, resulting in a heart attack.”

With Coronary Artery Calcification Scoring, patients are assigned a risk for heart disease ranging from low to high based upon the amount of calcium deposits in their coronary arteries. The procedure is performed in the Radiology Department with the use of a high-speed computed tomography – or CT – scanner.

The images generated by the CT scanner are reviewed by a radiologist with the aid of sophisticated computer software, and a coronary artery calcification score is assigned.

“Coronary Artery Calcification Scoring is another way for physicians to help patients evaluate the overall health of their heart and circulatory system,” Dr. Estes said.

The procedure requires a physician’s referral and is best suited for asymptomatic patients ages 30 to 60 with known risk factors for heart disease.


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