What is a Heart Calcium Score Chart?

Typically known as cardiac calcium scoring, a heart calcium scoring chart analyzes the results of a noninvasive CT scan (computed tomography). This scan measures the level of calcified plaque in the coronary arteries of the heart, which are viral transportation vessels for supplying oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle (American Heart Association, 2023).

Significant levels of calcified cholesterol and recording these levels in a Heart Calcium Score Chart can assist clinicians in determining the likelihood of a future heart attack or stroke and making appropriate treatment plans to combat this. 

The plaque in coronary arteries is made up of fat and calcium that attaches to the artery walls and solidifies and calcifies over time, hardening the walls and increasing the risk of clogging the arteries. If the arteries clog, blood flow is reduced, and the heart lacks adequate oxygen levels, resulting in cell death. The plaque can also cause a blood clot, which has been linked to the occurrence of a heart attack. 

Why is the chart important?

The Heart Calcium Score Chart helps record vital calcium heart score results clearly. It can also be used to make further treatment plans and educate the patient on needed lifestyle changes to prevent an increased risk of future cardiac events.

Usually, the coronary artery calcium score will present as 0, indicating no calcified plaque (very low risk of coronary artery disease). However, the patient's age must be considered, and it is common for the older population to have some plaque present. Close monitoring of this is desirable. 

The results are commonly referred to as Agatston scores, and different parameters help define the severity of plaque within the arteries. A coronary artery calcium scoring is a recommended routine check for females over the age of 40 and males over the age of 35 who possess two or more of the high-risk factors such as: 

  • Diabetes 
  • Smoking past or present
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity 
  • Elevated triglycerides
  • A low-movement lifestyle
  • A stressful lifestyle
  • Family history of heart disease

This testing tool can help detect heart disease within its earliest stages. It offers the patient and healthcare professional the best chance to make a treatment plan and address diet, exercise, and potential medication usage.

How does it work?

Having a Heart Calcium Score Chart is an excellent addition to your healthcare toolkit. To incorporate it into your practice, follow these steps:

Step 1: Download the chart

You can download the Heart Calcium Score Chart from the link on this page. Prepare a printed copy for easy access during consultations.

Step 2: Collate essential information

Fill out all essential patient information, including any high-risk factors mentioned above. After conducting the CT scan, analyze the calcium scare measures against the parameters to determine the presence of vascular disease and the need for further intervention. The CT scan involves tracking the patient's heart rate by placing EKG electrodes in the chest area, which takes approximately 20-30 seconds to complete.

The entire procedure may take up to 15 minutes with a CT technologist and radiologist.

Step 3: Store the template securely

After reviewing the results and hosting a consultation with your patient and relevant specialists, you need to secure the Heart Calcium Score Chart so that access is only granted to relevant parties. Ensure this through Carepatrons HIPAA-compliant free patient records software. All pertinent medical records can be safely stored and collated for ease and security.

When would you use this chart?

Routine coronary calcium scans are generally not advisable for individuals already identified as high-risk for heart attacks or those with a history of heart attacks, stent placements, or coronary bypass surgery, as other tests or procedures already provide necessary insights into heart artery conditions. It is recommended to consult with your healthcare team to determine the appropriateness of a coronary calcium scan for your specific situation.

With that, here are instances when the Heart Calcium Score Chart is handy:

Assessing cardiovascular risk

The chart helps doctors estimate the risk of coronary artery disease by measuring the amount of calcium in the coronary arteries. A higher calcium score indicates more calcification, indicating a greater likelihood of blockages or atherosclerosis. This information aids in predicting future heart events, such as heart attacks.

Guiding treatment decisions

Physicians can tailor treatment plans based on the calcium score to better manage cardiovascular health. For example, a patient with a high score might need more aggressive interventions, like medications to lower cholesterol or lifestyle changes to reduce risk factors. Conversely, a low score might suggest that less intensive treatment is sufficient.

Motivating lifestyle changes

When patients see their calcium score, it can provide a tangible measure of their heart health, which may encourage them to adopt healthier habits. Understanding their risk level can motivate them to stop smoking, eat healthier, exercise regularly, and adhere to prescribed treatments. This proactive approach can help prevent the progression of heart disease.

What do the results mean?

The results are often referred to as Agatston scores. The parameters used to help measure the severity of the calcified plaque are represented by an absolute numerical value and a percentile that considers sex, age, and ethnicity.

Exact parameters vary between institutions, and checking your practice guidelines for scoring is recommended. Interpretations of coronary calcium scores are outlined below (Hengrussamee, n.d.; Radiology Associates of Albuquerque, n.d.):

  • No calcified plaque detected 0: The risk of myocardial infarction and stroke at ten years is less than 1%. It is important to note that age, sex, and ethnicity may impact the suspected normal range for calcified plaque.
  • Calcium detected in extremely minimal levels 1-100: At ten years, the risk of myocardial infarction and stroke is still low, less than 10%.
  • Moderate levels of plaque detected 101-400: Minimal narrowing of heart arteries is likely, and there is a moderate risk between 10 to 20% of myocardial infarction and stroke at ten years.
  • Moderately high levels of plaque detected 101- 400 and >75th percentile: Moderately high risk of myocardial infarction and stroke at ten years, 15-20%
  • Extensive levels of plaque detected >400: Very high risk of myocardial infarction and stroke at ten years, >20%.

Mild to extensive levels of calcified plaque indicates the need for a treatment plan to lower the chances of a serious cardiac event happening in the future. Further testing may be required to define the specific cardiac condition diagnosis and the true extent of damage or potential risk. 

Treatment commonly involves diet changes, exercise changes, and specific medication for cholesterol levels that reduce low-density lipoproteins. There is also the option to prescribe the 'good' cholesterol, such as niacin, to increase high-density lipoproteins.


American Heart Association. (2023, April 13). Coronary Artery Calcium (CAC) Test. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/heart-attack/diagnosing-a-heart-attack/cac-test

Radiology Associates of Albuquerque. (n.d.). Heart CT scan for calcium screening scoring. Retrieved May 21, 2024, from https://www.raaonline.com/heart-ct-scan-for-calcium-screening-scoring/

Hengrussamee, K. (n.d.). Coronary artery calcium scan (CAC) – A test to detect calcified plaque on the walls of the heart’s arteries. Bangkok Heart Hospital. https://www.bangkokhearthospital.com/en/content/coronary-calcium-scan

Who typically requests a Heart Calcium Score Chart?
Who typically requests a Heart Calcium Score Chart?

Commonly asked questions

Who typically requests a Heart Calcium Score Chart?

Medical professionals will request a heart calcium score for patients who are part of at-risk populations yet present as asymptomatic. This score is invaluable for making predictions about the probability of heart-related events occurring in the future.

When is a Heart Calcium Score Chart used?

A Heart Calcium Score Chart is typically used to collate the results of a CT scan and predict the probability of future cardiac injury. They are well-utilized for asymptomatic patients who have multiple risk factors, such as a family history of heart disease and high cholesterol.

How is a Heart Calcium Score Chart used?

Medical professionals use a Heart Calcium Score Chart to collate the results from a CT scan and make predictions about the risk of future heart attacks or strokes. Collecting these results is painless and non-intrusive and provides fantastic preventive care.

How long does a Heart Calcium Scoring take?

The initial scan takes approximately 30 seconds, with the consultation lasting 10 to 15 minutes. The identification and analysis of the scores are expected to take 20 to 30 minutes.

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