If you MIGHT need a statin, consider a CAC scan
Did you know that there’s a non-invasive test that can help you and your doctor decide if you truly need a statin medication to lower cholesterol?
It’s called a Coronary Artery Calcium (CAC) Scan. While this test is not right for everyone, if your personal risk of heart disease is uncertain it can help guide your medication decision.
That’s what happened with me, which I wrote about in my 2017 post, Coronary Calcium Scan Illuminates Heart Disease Risk. Since then, the CAC scan is being more widely used and it’s something everyone who falls into the ‘unclear’ category should know about before starting a statin medication.
Harvard Health’s Do You Need a Calcium Scan article is a great resource. “Dr. Ron Blankstein, a cardiovascular imaging specialist and preventive cardiologist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital said,
‘A calcium scan is very useful if there’s uncertainty about a person’s risk of heart disease or the need for statins.'”
The article went on to explain the CAC scan is being more widely used in recent years, especially for those whose risk profiles are ‘borderline’ (which is many of us in our 40s and 50s.) It also explains why the CAC scan is not appropriate for those who already have heart disease or have very low heart disease risk.
If you and your doctor are considering a statin to lower your cholesterol and heart disease risk, ask if a CAC scan would be appropriate. Your insurance may not cover it, but it can provide very useful information. The scan may show your risk is lower or more elevated than initially thought—either way, that will help you make an informed decision about managing your heart disease risk.