The presence of calcium in arteries could help doctors predict the risk of a heart attack, research has claimed.
Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association said the substance contributed to the hard “plaque” that helped to clog and narrow diseased blood vessels, which can eventually lead to angina and heart attacks.
While traditional methods such as assessing age, blood pressure and cholesterol remain highly useful, adding a calcium score to the equation could make it more effective, the investigation said.
The measurement can be derived through a simple CT scan.
A trial study of 6,000 patients found the procedure greatly improved the ability of doctors to identify at-risk individuals.
Lead researcher Dr Tamar Polonsky, from Northern University in Chicago, said: “Almost one quarter of the people in the study who had heart attacks were considered intermediate risk based on traditional risk factors alone, but were considered high risk once we included their CACS.”