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What Does a Coronary Calcium Scan Show?

After a coronary calcium scan, you'll get a calcium score called an Agatston score. The score is based on the amount of calcium found in your coronary (heart) arteries. You may get an Agatston score for each major artery and a total score.

The test is negative if no calcifications are found in your arteries. This means your chance of having a heart attack in the next 2–5 years is low.

The test is positive if calcifications are found in your arteries. Calcifications are a sign of atherosclerosis (ATH-er-o-skler-O-sis) and coronary heart disease (CHD). (Atherosclerosis is a condition in which plaque builds up in the arteries.) The higher your Agatston score is, the more severe the atherosclerosis.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has a calculator you can use to see how your Agatston score compares with scores of people your age and of the same ethnic background.

An Agatston score of 0 is normal. In general, the higher your score, the more likely you are to have CHD. If your score is high, your doctor may recommend more tests.

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March 30, 2012