Coronary Calcium Score (CAC)
The coronary artery calcium (CAC) scan can detect and quantify atherosclerosis and is valuable
in informing treatment decisions in asymptomatic adults. However, it cannot detect and quantify
low-density, non-calcified plaque, which is more likely than hardened and calcified plaque to rupture and cause a blood clot to form.
A coronary artery calcium (CAC) score is a non-invasive test that uses a CT scan to measure the amount of calcium in the coronary (heart) arteries. Calcium deposits in the coronary arteries, also known as plaque, can indicate the presence of coronary artery disease (CAD), which is a condition in which the coronary arteries become narrowed or blocked due to the buildup of plaque.
The CAC score tells us the following:
The presence and severity of coronary artery disease: A high CAC score indicates a higher amount of plaque in the coronary arteries and a greater risk of CAD. A score of zero does not indicate any plaque. It just tells us that there is no calcified plaque at the moment, while higher scores indicate calcified plaque in the coronary arteries.
Risk of future cardiac events: A high CAC score is associated with an increased risk of having a heart attack or other cardiac event in the future, while a low CAC score is associated with a lower risk.
Monitoring progression: CAC score can be used to monitor the progression of CAD over time and to assess the effectiveness of treatment.
Identifying individuals who are asymptomatic: CAC score can be used to identify individuals who are at risk for CAD but are asymptomatic (have no symptoms) and would not be identified by traditional risk factor assessment.
The healthcare system misses more than half of patients who appear to be the picture of health but suffer a heart attack because they have a buildup of non-calcified plaque that a traditional CAC scan misses. CLEERLY imaging identifies patients at a high risk of coronary artery disease sooner than the traditional CAC scan. This can help physicians prevent heart attacks – and reduce the number of preventable but costly hospitalizations and readmissions that healthcare organizations experience every year.
It's important to note that the CAC score is not a definitive diagnosis and it should not be used in isolation to make treatment decisions. It should be used in conjunction with other diagnostic tools and risk assessments to help determine the best course of treatment for an individual. Additionally, CAC score does not measure other factors that can increase the risk of CAD such as the size, composition and stability of the plaque, which can be assessed through other methods such as coronary angiography.