Unlocking Heart Health 

Coronary Calcium Scoring

A coronary calcium score can predict heart attack risk. Find out your score with a simple heart scan at Wake Radiology.


Coronary calcium scoring, also known as coronary artery calcium (CAC) scoring or calcium scan, is a quick and easy imaging test used to detect and measure the amount of calcium deposits in the coronary arteries. These calcium deposits, or calcifications, can indicate atherosclerosis, a condition characterized by the buildup of plaque in the arteries. Atherosclerosis can lead to narrowing or blockage of the arteries, increasing the risk of heart attack or other cardiovascular events.

During a coronary calcium scoring test at Wake Radiology, a CT machine takes detailed images of the heart and coronary arteries. A radiologist will identify and measure any areas of calcification. The results of the test can help healthcare providers assess an individual’s risk of heart disease and make informed decisions about preventive measures and treatments.

Talk to your healthcare provider today and schedule a coronary calcium scan at Wake Radiology.

Are you at risk for heart attack?

Understanding your coronary calcium score empowers healthcare providers to implement preventive measures safeguarding your heart health. While calcium scoring can be useful for all patients, it’s typically recommended for men over age 45 and postmenopausal women over age 55 who also have one or more major risk factors for a heart attack:

  1. High Blood Pressure (Hypertension): Elevated blood pressure can damage arteries over time, making them more susceptible to plaque buildup and narrowing, increasing the risk of heart attack.
  2. High Cholesterol: High levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol can lead to the buildup of plaque in the arteries, reducing blood flow to the heart and increasing the risk of a heart attack.
  3. Smoking: Tobacco smoke contains chemicals that can damage blood vessels and increase the formation of plaque, leading to a higher risk of heart attack.
  4. Diabetes: Individuals with diabetes are at an increased risk of heart disease due to elevated blood sugar levels, which can damage blood vessels and nerves over time.
  5. Obesity and Physical Inactivity: Being overweight or obese, as well as leading a sedentary lifestyle, can contribute to high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and diabetes, all of which increase the risk of heart attack.
  6. Unhealthy Diet: Diets high in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, and sodium can contribute to high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and obesity, all of which are risk factors for heart disease.
  7. Family History: Having a family history of heart disease, particularly if a close relative experienced a heart attack at a young age, can increase an individual’s risk of heart attack.
  8. Age: The risk of heart attack increases with age, with men generally being at higher risk after age 45 and women after age 55.
  9. Stress: Chronic stress can contribute to high blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease, potentially increasing the risk of heart attack.
  10. Excessive Alcohol Consumption: Heavy drinking can raise blood pressure and contribute to conditions such as obesity and diabetes, increasing the risk of heart attack.

What should I expect during a CT coronary calcium scoring scan?

A CT coronary calcium scan at Wake Radiology UNC REX Healthcare is fast, easy and non-invasive.

  • Please avoid caffeine and smoking for four hours prior to the exam.
  • You will be asked to lie on your back on a movable table. The CT technologist will position your arms over your head.
  • Before the scan begins, sticky patches called electrodes will be attached to your chest and will measure your heartbeat.
  • You will need to stay still during the scan. 
  • Patients are typically in and out in less than 30 minutes. 

What is a normal coronary calcium score?

Coronary calcium scoring is a quick and painless CT scan that measures the amount of calcium in the coronary arteries. This level of calcium relates to plaque build-up in your arteries.

  • The total amount of plaque is calculated to determine your calcium score.
  • A coronary calcium score can range from 0 to over 400. 
  • At any age, a calcium score of 0 is considered normal and optimal.
  • A higher score suggests you have an increased risk for heart attack or stroke.

Why should I choose Wake Radiology for my heart scan?

The radiologists at Wake Radiology UNC REX have subspecialized expertise in heart imaging. They are trained in interpreting CT images and will send a complete, detailed report to the provider who referred you for the scan.

All Wake Radiology locations are accredited by the American College of Radiology (ACR). This means our practice has met quality guidelines and follows strict safety protocols at all offices that perform computed tomography scans.

How do I schedule a coronary calcium scoring screening?

Talk with your healthcare provider about the benefits of a coronary calcium scan at Wake Radiology. Once you have your physician’s referral, contact our Scheduling Team at 919-232-4700 to find a  location near where you live or work.


Location. Location. Location.

With locations throughout the Triangle, we are placed where you work, live and play.


A routine X-ray does not require a scheduled appointment. We offer walk-in X-rays at most of our Triangle locations. Patients only need an order from a referring provider.


Schedule your annual 3D screening mammogram online. With breast imaging locations close to where you live or work, getting your mammogram is easy.


We want MRI appointments to be convenient and with as little stress as possible. That's why we offer MRI appointments early in the morning, late in the day and on weekends.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This