Harvard Women's Health Watch

By the way, doctor: What can I do about a high coronary calcium score?

Q. What can you tell me about coronary calcium scores and overall heart health? I have a high calcium score (510) but normal cholesterol and a normal weight. I don't smoke or have diabetes. My cardiologist thinks I should take a statin, but my internist disagrees. What should I do?

A. There's no one right answer to your question. Experts are still debating how to use information about calcium deposits in the walls of coronary arteries, which are measured by computed tomography (CT).

Calcium itself doesn't cause atherosclerosis, but it's involved in the formation of atherosclerotic plaques, which develop in response to damage to the artery usually caused by LDL (bad) cholesterol. The damage triggers inflammation, and calcium is deposited as part of the body's normal response to inflammation. As the plaques enlarge, they may narrow an artery, or they may rupture. A blood clot can form on a ruptured plaque, block the artery, and cause a heart attack.

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