I am
Heart Foundation releases recommendations on coronary artery calcium scoring
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

Heart Foundation releases recommendations on coronary artery calcium scoring

Media Release - 17 May 2021

The Heart Foundation has today released recommendations for doctors on the use of coronary artery calcium scoring to support the prevention of heart attack and stroke but calls for more research to define its role in Australia.

A coronary artery calcium score, or calcium score, is a measure of how much calcium is in the walls of the heart’s arteries. Calcium, along with fat, cholesterol, and other substances found in the blood, creates plaque. The build-up of plaque over time can block an artery, causing a heart attack or stroke.

The recommendations, published today in the Medical Journal of Australia, give doctors practical advice on deciding when and how to use calcium scoring to help identify a person’s risk of having a heart attack. 

Heart Foundation Chief Medical Adviser and cardiologist, Professor Garry Jennings, said that in some people without previous heart attack or stroke, calcium scoring could be considered to help reclassify a person’s risk following a Heart Health Check.  

“As part of a Heart Health Check, your doctor can estimate your risk of heart attack or stroke based on any risk factors you may have. These can include raised blood pressure or high cholesterol. These risk factors are used to estimate your risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next five years,” Professor Jennings said. 

“After a Heart Health Check, you will know whether you have a high, moderate, or low risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

“If you are found to be at moderate risk, calcium scoring may help guide your doctor on how intensely to manage your risk factors.” 

But Professor Jennings said coronary artery calcium scoring will not be appropriate for everyone, because in some groups of people, it won’t change how a person is treated or managed. 

“Those groups include people who are already known to be at high risk of a heart attack or stroke or people who have already had one.”  

Calcium scoring is measured using a CT scan of the heart to see how much calcium is visible in the walls of the arteries. A score of zero indicates there is no calcified plaque.

Currently, coronary artery calcium scoring is not covered by Medicare, so the cost of the test is an out-of-pocket expense, and that cost varies across the country. 

 “The decision to use calcium scoring will depend on many factors. Your doctor will discuss these with you to decide whether calcium scoring is right for you.”

Professor Jennings said that despite the new recommendations being based on the best available evidence, more research is needed to understand how coronary artery calcium scoring is directly relevant to Australians.

“This will help define the role of calcium scoring in the prevention and management of heart attack in Australia.

“Our current advice is for people to see their GP for a Heart Health Check. Following your results, talk with your doctor about whether calcium scoring is suitable for you.”  

People 45 years or over, or 30 years and over for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, can visit their GP for a Heart Health Check. The check is subsidised by Medicare and calculates a person’s risk of heart attack or stroke in the next five years. 

Research Directory

Research Directory

More Australians die of Heart Disease than any other cause.

More Australians die of Heart Disease than any other cause.

More Australians die of Heart Disease than any other cause.

And the heartache lasts a lifetime. But you can help the Heart Foundation fund life-saving research to keep more families together....

Heart Health Check Toolkit

Heart Health Check Toolkit

MyMarathon

MyMarathon

MyMarathon

The fundraising race where you set the pace. Run, jog or walk MyMarathon at your own pace during October....

Atrial Fibrillation (AF) clinical resources

Atrial Fibrillation (AF) clinical resources

Resources and clinical information for health professionals...

Kid-friendly lentil stew

Kid-friendly lentil stew

30 minutes
Serves 4

Asian (Chilli, soy and sesame) dressing

Asian (Chilli, soy and sesame) dressing

Asian (Chilli, soy and sesame) dressing

What's your BMI?

What's your BMI?

What's your BMI?

Are you within a healthy weight range for your height?...

Romesco Sauce

Romesco Sauce

Romesco Sauce

Serves Makes 350g | (Serves 8 – about 2 tablespoons - 44g)

Absolute CVD risk charts

Absolute CVD risk charts

Absolute CVD risk charts provide a visual tool to calculate CVD risk for use in practice in Australia....

Order patient resources online

Order patient resources online

Search and order from our range of printed patient resources online. ...

Vegetarian lasagne

Vegetarian lasagne

Vegetarian lasagne

1 hour
Serves 6

Sodium and salt converter

Sodium and salt converter

Convert the sodium listed on food products into grams of salt or vice versa. ...

Heart Week

Heart Week

What is coronary heart disease?

What is coronary heart disease?

What is coronary heart disease?

Coronary heart disease (CHD) or coronary artery disease occurs when a coronary artery clogs and narrows because of a buildup of plaque....

Coronary Artery Calcium Scoring

Coronary Artery Calcium Scoring

A coronary artery calcium score can be used following a Heart Health Check to estimate your risk of heart attack....

Lunch recipes

Lunch recipes

Lunch recipes

Search our lunch recipe ideas...

Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance

Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance

Alliance with chronic disease prevention stakeholders...

Heart-healthy drinks

Heart-healthy drinks

Heart-healthy drinks

While water is clearly the most heart-healthy drink, there are ther drinks that can be enjoyed in moderation. ...

Q&A with Professor Levon Khachigian

Q&A with Professor Levon Khachigian

Q&A with Professor Levon Khachigian

Developing a new medicine for inflammatory cardiovascular disease...

Women and heart disease

Women and heart disease

Women and heart disease

Every day, 22 women lose their lives to this condition....

Apple & honey nut crumble oats

Apple & honey nut crumble oats

Apple & honey nut crumble oats

10 minutes
Serves Serves 2 (Makes 2 cups)

Staying active for better heart health

Staying active for better heart health

Staying active for better heart health

Moving more every day is one of the best habits you can have....

Breakfast tacos

Breakfast tacos

Breakfast tacos

5 minutes
Serves 1

Donate Monthly | Become a Regular Donor

Donate Monthly | Become a Regular Donor

Donate Monthly | Become a Regular Donor

Join the fight against heart disease....

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: Lower your risk of heart disease

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: Lower your risk of heart disease

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: Lower your risk of heart disease

Support and resources to help you stay healthy and reduce risk of heart disease. ...

Active Living NSW

Active Living NSW

Active Living NSW

Active Living NSW supports physical activity and healthy built environments in NSW ...

What waist measurements mean for your heart

What waist measurements mean for your heart

What waist measurements mean for your heart

How your waist measurement contributes to your heart health...

Sweet potato breakfast hash

Sweet potato breakfast hash

Sweet potato breakfast hash

15 minutes
Serves 2

Heart failure clinical resources

Heart failure clinical resources

Resources and clinical information for health professionals...