Your Heart is Everything.

What the American College of Cardiology is telling us with the above news: that too many Americans are dying needlessly, that 415,000 cardiovascular deaths (out of the total 800,000 deaths annually) could have been prevented and also many of the 2.2 million cardiac hospitalizations. Had the federal Million Hearts Initiative of 2012 succeeded, and it could have succeeded, there would have been 200,000 fewer deaths in 2016. Don’t be part of the statistics. Here is what you can do - save your heart.

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One of the reasons to get your calcium score is to overcome the above problem - if you have plaques, you will be offered optimal medical therapy which includes statin to stop plaque progression and even induce regression.    

Coronary scan is for the heart just as mammography is for the breasts and colonoscopy is for the colon. Earlier disease detection saves lives. A 50 year old woman’s risk of dying from heart disease is 14 times greater than from breast cancer. Unlike annual mammography and colonoscopy, coronary calcium scan is usually performed only once or twice about 3 to 5 years apart.

Detecting cholesterol plaques build up in the coronary arteries earlier and then receiving optimal medical therapy before these plaques cause heart attack or stroke have the potential to reduce these events by more than half.

Coronary calcium scan is rapid CT scan that takes only less than 30 seconds to complete. There is no special preparation, no IV contrast, no exercise and very low radiation exposure. The test costs only $49 in the three imaging center listed here. If your insurance does not cover it, consider it a gift to yourself.

Detecting plaques earlier and getting optimal medical therapy can prevent plaque rupture, stop plaque progression and prevent the life threatening situation shown above.

Earlier Disease Detection Saves Lives

Who should consider getting their calcium score?

Get your calcium score if you are male over 45 or female over 50 and have at least one of these heart attack risk factors:

1. You smoke.

2. Have high cholesterol or taking statin.

3. Have high blood pressure or taking blood pressure medications.

4. Have diabetes or taking diabetic medications.

5. A family history of heart disease or stroke.

6. Have experienced chest pains and have none of the above risk factors.

7. If statin therapy was previously recommended and you don’t want to take it unless you really need to or if you are already taking statin but you are considering stopping it because you are having some side effects or you are not really sure you need to take statin. (If your score is ZERO, you may not need to take statin.)

The more risk factors you have, the more likely you have more plaques. More plaques mean higher risk. The higher the risk, the greater the benefits of medical therapy.

If you unfortunately had already experienced a cardiovascular event - a heart attack, a stroke, needed a stent or bypass, you should be already receiving optimal medical therapy to prevent another event and getting your coronary calcium score is not needed. You are already known to be at high to very high risk and have a high to very high calcium score.

The Problem with using the traditional 10 Year Cardiovascular Risk Score: It is not reliable.

If your life might depend on it, you want a test that predicts as accurately as possible, your risk of having a heart attack in the next 5 to 10 years. Nearly all heart attacks are due to plaque rupture - the presence of plaques is a fundamental requirement. 

The 10 Year Cardiovascular Risk calculations are based on the interplay of several risk factors (age, gender, smoking, blood pressure, HDL cholesterol, etc.) and not on the actual presence or absence of coronary plaques. It has nothing to with coronary plaques at all. A Risk Score of 25% is considered high risk and therefore statin therapy is indicated. A patient need to ask these three questions:

Question 1: Do I have coronary plaques? 

Traditional 10 Year Risk Calculator answer: Don’t know. 

Question 2: Could I have no coronary plaques and therefore may not need statin? 

Traditional 10 Year Risk Calculator answer: Don’t know.

Question 3: If you are saying that I am at high risk based on my Risk Score, how much coronary plaques do I have? 

Traditional 10 Year Risk Calculator answer: Don’t know.

For $49, why not have a safe, reliable, quick test that can answer all these three relevant questions accurately and avoid treatment you don’t need and if treatment is needed, get the optimal medical therapy necessary to maximally prevent heart attack, stroke, sudden death, future need for stents and heart bypass.

Examples of Coronary Calcium Scan and Score Reports:

0 = lowest possible risk                              101 to 400 = high risk

1 to 10 = minimal risk                                over 400 = very high risk

11 to 100 = moderate risk                          over 1000 = extremely high risk

Calcium score of 0 (ZERO): Very low risk. Statin treatment is usually unnecessary. Atypical chest pain is not likely to be cardiac. The likelihood of having a heart attack and stroke in the next 10 years is very low.

CACS 1800

Calcium score of 1,864 with calcified plaques (marked locations) in all major arteries. The total number of plaques is the sum of the calcified and non-calcified plaques. Calcified plaques are markers of plaque burden but it is just the tip of the iceberg. Any of these plaques can rupture and cause a heart attack. The likelihood of having a heart attack, sudden cardiac death, having to need a stent or heart bypass within the next 5 to 10 years is very high but preventable. 

If you have seen how much plaques you have in your coronary arteries, you are not likely to stop taking a lifesaving drug like statin without consulting your doctor.

While a stent only treats only plaque, optimal medical therapy treats all the plaques, not only in the heart but also in the brain. You have options. Medical treatment is covered by insurance.

All the three previous and current US presidents had a coronary calcium scan for their calcium score. Get your calcium score - your gift to yourself. Or to someone you care.

Watch the award-winning Netflix documentary - The Widowmaker.

More about coronary calcium scan - click here. was developed by Dr. R. deGoma to help primary care physicians eliminate more preventable premature cardiovascular deaths, heart attacks and strokes in the community. To learn more about his journey to prevention, visit

 Start Date: Jan 1, 2019     © Save Your Heart Campaign  2019