What is Atherosclerosis (Calcium Buildup)?
Atherosclerosis refers to the buildup of plaque in and on your artery walls, which can restrict blood flow. Soft plaques undergo changes and eventually calcify, becoming hard plaques. While soft plaques can also be problematic and cause heart attacks, the amount of calcification in a person’s coronary arteries has been well correlated to risk of Coronary After Disease (heart disease) and Myocardial Infarction (heart attack). It is a disease of the arteries, which often starts as early as a person’s 20’s.
One specific area of concern is the coronary arteries. Coronary arteries are vessels that supply oxygenated blood to the heart. Plaque, which is a collection of calcium, cholesterol, and fat, can build up in these vessels. Over time, this build up can restrict blood flow to the heart, causing a heart attack or a stroke. This disease is known as Coronary Artery Disease.
Symptoms of Atherosclerosis:
Calcium buildup can be the cause of underlying conditions, such as Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) and Myocardial Infarction (MI), and other diseases that can cause strokes and heart attacks. Catch it early by identifying the following symptoms:
- Pain in the chest with slightest exertion
- Shortness of breath
- Heaviness in the chest
- Slow or rapid heartbeat
- Sometimes no symptoms are identifiable
How do I prevent Calcium Build Up?
The best way to prevent a calcium buildup comes from living a healthy lifestyle. Ways to implement a healthy lifestyle include:
- Eat a balanced diet composed of all essential nutrients.
- High fiber diets have been shown to reduce cholesterol buildup, which in turn reduces the amount of cholesterol that can build up in arteries.
- Lowering your saturated fat content will in turn reduce LDL cholesterol, a type of cholesterol that is known to lead to atherosclerotic plaque build up.
- Reduce your sodium intake. Sodium causes high blood pressure (hypertension), which is the long-term force of the blood against your artery walls. High blood pressure damages the arterial wall, making the arteries susceptible to calcium buildup.
- Do not smoke. Quitting smoking will prevent further damage to artery linings and reduce accompanying complications. Each cigarette takes around 11 minutes off of your life. While cancer is the cause of some of the life loss, much of it is actually smoking’s tendency to contribute to Coronary Artery Disease.
- Regular exercise helps decrease obesity and can decrease the buildup of calcium inside the artery. Exercise burns body fat and removes fat from the blood more quickly. It also strengthens the heart and can help your body build up collateral supply within your heart.
How do I know if I have a calcium buildup?
Heart Scans are performed to detect the buildup of plaque around coronary arteries; also known as a Calcium Scoring test. This simple, non-invasive test uses a CT Scan to measure the amount of calcium in your coronary arteries. Results from the scan helps your doctor determine if you need medication or lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of heart disease.
Why Choose Blue Rock Medical?
- Services are 1/3 of the cost of a hospital visit.
- A CT scan can be scheduled same-day.
- On-staff Diagnostic Radiologist to read the results.
- Convenient parking and personable check-in ensure you are comfortable preparing for your procedure.
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