heart care

Coronary Risk Assessment

Do you know your risk of a heart attack?

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United Sates, killing more than half a million Americans each year. Up to 50 percent of patients with heart attacks have no prior heart symptoms.

Traditional methods for predicting heart attack risk in apparently healthy or symptom-free patients involve looking for risk factors such as high blood pressure or cholesterol, diabetes, age and smoking. This method looks for risk factors or markers of heart disease. It does not identify actual heart disease. It also fails to quantify the influence of genetics and family history, which can be potent in driving the development of heart disease.

Coronary artery calcium (CAC) scoring is a powerful tool that can look beyond the limitations of traditional risk-factor analysis to predict future heart attacks. Sometimes called a “calcium score,” this technology uses a simple, noninvasive X-ray to measure the total amount of disease inside your heart. There is not a single other test in preventative cardiology that predicts your heart attack risk better than this strategy.

Atherosclerotic plaques, the cause of most heart attacks, build up in the heart’s arteries and leave behind a telltale sign as they grow: calcium deposits. This disease process — driven and accelerated by high cholesterol levels, blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, age and genetics — may eventually cause blocked heart arteries, heart attacks, weakened heart muscle or sudden death.

These calcium deposits are easily seen and counted (scored) by a CT scan (X-ray). The test takes seconds and involves minimal radiation exposure. No medications, IVs or preparation are required prior to the test.

Coronary calcium scoring finds the total amount of disease in your heart’s arteries, which directly correlates with your future risk of heart attack or sudden death from heart disease. Armed with this information, your physician can better determine goals of treatment and choose the therapies and lifestyle changes that will make the biggest impact for your heart.

Call (209) 536-3437 to schedule your coronary risk assessment.


Bob and Fred are both 58-year-old men with a history of smoking and identical blood pressures and cholesterol levels. They enjoy active lifestyles and have no symptoms or history of heart disease.

What is their risk of having a heart attack in the next 10 years?

  • Traditional risk-factor analysis predicts a heart attack risk for both men to be 14 percent.

A coronary risk assessment with calcium scoring shows:

  • Bob's risk is 3 percent. With a calcium score of 0, no disease was detected on his CT scan.
  • Fred's risk is 44 percent. With a calcium score of 410, extensive disease was detected. Fred can now work with his physician on appropriate therapies for his risk level.