Is There Early Treatment for Coronary Artery Disease?

Asymptomatic CAD, or coronary artery disease can be thought of as the preliminary stage of coronary artery disease where plaque starts to build up in the heart’s major blood vessels. This is typically realized from abnormal scoring on Cardiac Calcium Scan.  

What is a Cardiac Calcium Scan?

This is a radiological test which looks at calcium deposits within the vessels of the heart.  Since the majority of atherosclerotic plaque contains calcium, measuring the calcium levels in the heart vessels is a surefire way of identifying the presence of coronary artery disease.

Being able to identify coronary artery disease early is important as more than half of Americans will die of cardiovascular disease. For many the first manifestation of heart disease will be a heart attack or cardiac death.  Thus the ability to detect coronary artery disease early is appealing from a preventive health perspective.   Testing for early disease should focus of those individuals that are at risk for heart disease like smokers, diabetics, and those with family history of early heart disease.

The score of a cardiac calcium scan is used to determine the risk of having a cardiac event. A score below 100 indicates low risk while above 300 indicates high risk.  A high score is not an indication for invasive therapy, but rather should prompt lifestyle modification.

What you should do with this knowledge

Typically, someone’s cardiac calcium score progresses. The development of a coronary artery plaque is a gradual process and the factors that cause and initially elevated score will continue to be at play. The best thing to do is to try and reverse your risk factors for plaque development.

Obesity and poor nutrition are two of the most prominent contributors of heart plaque. The American heart association recommends you eat a variety of food, vegetables and fruits that are high in vitamins, minerals and fibers, as well as fish which is a good source of protein.  Furthermore, you should shoot for 30 minutes of daily exercise.  You can start slow, and gradually increase intensity and duration.  If you smoke, quit.  As many as 30% of coronary heart disease deaths are attributable to cigarette smoking. Cigarettes have been known to increase the formation of plaques in the heart.