Low to intermediate risk individuals can get a 15-year “warranty” against death from coronary artery disease. The fine print on this warranty is that it applies to people under age 60, with no symptoms of heart disease, and a coronary calcium score (CAC) of zero. These findings were released after a recent study followed 9,715 individuals that underwent CAC imaging, which scores the amount of calcified plaque in the arteries that supple blood to the heart.
Plaque in the coronary arteries can build up and block the arteries, causing heart attacks and other forms of cardiac damage. Previously, the level of severity was discussed in terms of how much of the artery was blocked. This study found that the type of plaque might be the most important indicator of risk.
This is an important study in the field of personalized medicine. Advanced testing is giving us increasing ways to stratify risk. Medicine is becoming increasingly adept at pinpointing the conditions that pose the biggest threat to the longevity and wellness of each individual.