Abnormal deposition of calcium in our arterial wall is a significant area of study because it commonly affects our aging population and those experiencing diabetes mellitus, high cholesterol, and kidney disease. Calcium deposition in our heart artery is a marker for severe atherosclerosis and is associated with hypertension, congestive heart failure, and increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Using modern CT scanner, one can estimate the amount of calcium deposited in our heart arteries and an age-adjusted score can be derived for further risk assessment. A disproportionally high calcium score may lead to more aggressive management of existing cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure control and cholesterol level. In more severe cases, patient may have to undergo further investigations such as exercise echocardiography or coronary angiogram to quantify the risk of heart attack.
- Can you remove the calcium from the arteries?
- No it is not feasible and not safe to physically remove these calcified plaques from the artery. There is also no descaling agent to melt the calcium away either! The treatment of choice is to take aspirin and cholesterol lowering drugs long term. Aspirin lower the risk of blood clot forming on the calcified plaque while drugs like statin slow down the process of atherosclerosis.
- If my heart arteries have a lot of calcium, should I stop taking my calcium supplement given by my GP to protect my bones?
- You do not need to stop the calcium supplement as they protect you against osteoporosis. While both the bones and the arteries involve calcium the disease process is entirely different.