The widely accepted coronary calcification test is the Agatston test. This test was developed by the Florida cardiologist Arthur Agatston, M.D.
Coronary calcium scan
Coronary calcium scan provides details about the calcium deposit in your coronary arteries.
Coronary calcium scan provides a calcium score; it is called an Agatston score. This score based on the level of calcium deposits in your coronary (heart) arteries. This test provides Agatston score for every major artery and a total score.
Normal healthy Agatston score is 0. Higher Agatston score indicates a higher likelihood of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease (CHD). A negative score indicates there is no calcification found in the arteries. The negative score also means there is a low chance for heart attack in the next five years.
Coronary calcification is major risk factors to predict heart disease and future heart attacks. Men develop calcification ten to fifteen years earlier than women. In the arterial plaque cholesterol is just 3%; whereas, calcium is 50%.
- Optimal (low/no calcification): less than 11
- Moderate risk (moderate calcification): between 11 to 99
- High risk (increased calcification): between 100 to 400
Agatston score over 400 increases chance for
- Coronary procedures (bypass, stent placement, and angioplasty),
- Coronary events (myocardial infarction and cardiac death),
Happen in 2 to 5 years of the test. Highest Agatston scores (over 1000) individual has a 20% more chance of heart attack or cardiac death within a year.
Coronary calcification causes
Calcification may cause by
- Blood thinning medications,
- High fluoride ingestion,
- Vitamin C deficiency,
- Low magnesium intake,
- Low vitamin K in the diet or lack of beneficial microbes that produce vitamin k due to excess antibiotic use,
- Vitamin D deficiency,
- Excessive vitamin D & low vitamin K intake.
How do you lower Agatston score?
Coronary calcification may cause by vitamin & mineral deficiency. These deficiencies are from vitamin K, C & D, and magnesium.
Vitamin K deficiency
Vitamin K helps reach the calcium to the appropriate place in your body. Additionally, it stops calcium build up in the wrong places in your body. Calcium in arteries associated with arterial hardening or arterial plaques (atherosclerosis).
Vitamin K required for the production of the protein; it has a strong affinity for calcium. Vitamin K2 in the blood prevents calcium deposited in artery walls. “A high menaquinone (Vitamin K2) intake reduces the incidence of coronary heart disease.” Published in Nutrition, Metabolism, and Cardiovascular Diseases 2009 Sep;19(7):504-10.
In 2004, a prospective study from The Netherlands called The Rotterdam Study. This study found a strong link between vitamin K2 intake and reduced cardiovascular risk. “Dietary intake of menaquinone is associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease: The Rotterdam Study.” Published in Journal of Nutrition 2004 Nov; 134(11):3100-5. “High dietary menaquinone intake is associated with reduced coronary calcification,” published in Atherosclerosis. 2009 Apr; 203(2):489-93.
What causes vitamin k deficiency?
Vitamin K deficiency is due to vitamin k deficient food consumption. Additionally, antibiotic therapy (destroy intestinal bacteria that synthesize vitamin K).
The causes of vitamin k deficiency are
· Not consuming enough vitamin K rich foods.
· Antibiotic therapy destroys microbes (both beneficial & harmful) in your body (including intestine). It can induce vitamin K deficiency. Because intestinal bacterial synthesis and supplies a significant amount of vitamin K.
Reference: "A high menaquinone (vitamin K2) intake reduces the incidence of coronary heart disease." Published in Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Disease September 2009Volume 19, Issue 7, Pages 504–510. A high intake of menaquinones, especially MK-7, MK-8, and MK-9, could protect against CHD.
Can Vitamin-K reverse arterial calcification?
Many studies revealed a reversal of arterial calcification is possible with vitamin K2 supplementation. You need enough quantity and correct form of vitamin K2 to reverse arterial calcification.
Food sources of vitamin K:
Plant sources of vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) are:
- Green leafy vegetables (Broccoli, Kale, Spinach, Collards, Romaine lettuce, and Swiss chard),
- Some vegetable oils (soy & olive oil).
Your body makes vitamin K2 from K1. Animal sources of Vitamin K2 (Menaquinone) are eggs, meat, dairy, and fish. The only vegan food high in menaquinone has fermented food natto (998 µg per 100 g).
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin; so, fat increases its absorption. Since green leafy vegetables contain little fat, it is a good idea to add some fat or oil when preparing them. The good idea is to add some fat or oil during cooking green leafy vegetables.
Magnesium deficiency increases myocardial calcium level. Coronary artery calcium is a predictor of coronary heart disease events.
During magnesium deficiency, calcium becomes toxic to human.
Dr. Dean in her book The Magnesium Miracle" provided a simple exercise to explain calcium-magnesium imbalance. “Crush a calcium pill and dissolve in 1 oz (29.5 ml) of water. Then crush a magnesium pill and dissolve into this calcium water. Once added the magnesium, the undissolved calcium starts to dissolve. That is, calcium becomes more water-soluble in the presence of magnesium." The same happens in your bloodstream, heart, brain, kidneys, and all the body tissues.
Magnesium deficiency along with too much of calcium leads to
- Muscle spasms,
- Hardening of the arteries,
- Dental cavities,
- Kidney stones.
Mineral magnesium rejuvenates and prevents the calcification of organs and tissues; characteristic of the old-age related degeneration. Alkaline nature of the magnesium has acid-binding character; magnesium regulates the acid-alkaline balance of the body. - Dr. H. Ray Evers
Magnesium citrate supplementation help reduces
- Soft tissue calcium and calcified plaque
- Dilates coronary arteries and peripheral vessels,
- Help prevent blood clotting,
- Improves irregular heartbeats.
Magnesium rich foods are
- Leafy greens, beans, avocados, nuts & seeds, and whole grains.
- Bananas & dried fruit,
- Dark chocolate.
Vitamin D deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency increases your risk towards coronary calcification.
"Active Serum Vitamin D Levels Are Inversely Correlated with Coronary Calcification." Published in Circulation. 1997; 96: 1755-1760. This study shows vitamin D has a role for in the development of vascular calcification. The result revealed vitamin D levels inversely correlated with the extent of vascular calcification.
Daily exposure to rising sun for about 30 minutes can provide sufficient vitamin D.
Vitamin C deficiency
Vitamin C deficiency develops tiny cracks in your blood vessel. Your body increases blood cholesterol level to paste these cracks. Optimal vitamin C help maintain blood vessel elasticity, control cholesterol levels, remove fat deposits in your arteries.
Tiny cracks in the blood vessel wall develop due to vitamin C deficiency. This developed crack forces the body to produce more cholesterol to fill the cracks.
Long-term vitamin C deficiency can lead to weak arteries and prone to calcification.
Optimal vitamin C maintains
- Blood vessels strength,
- Reduces maintain circulating cholesterol,
- Removes fat deposits (in the inner walls).
Vitamin C rich foods are bell peppers, dark leafy greens, kiwifruit, broccoli, berries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, peas, and papayas.
10 Simple Lifestyle changes to lower coronary calcification
The best and most efficient pharmacy is within your own system. ~ Robert C. Peale
Treatment of individuals with high calcium scores should aim for reducing risk. This involves:
- If you have lipid disorders, high pressure, diabetes and nonalcoholic fatty liver; treat promptly.
- Refrain from smoking is essential.
- Avoid unnecessary medications (especially antibiotics) and other toxic ingestion/exposure.
- Regular, moderate exercise is advisable.
- Keep yourself away from the unhealthy diet (especially sugar & refined carbohydrates).
- Stress is the single largest risk for every health problem. Learn to manage it with the help of yoga, meditation, mild music, Tai Chi, etc.
- Exposing to raising sunlight is important to get enough vitamin D.
- Get enough vitamin K2. Additionally, enrich your intestine with beneficial microbes by consuming fermented foods. Some fermented foods are yogurt, miso, kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh, and kimchi. Natto is a fermented soy; it contains vitamin K2.
- Take magnesium rich foods. Magnesium rich foods are leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish, beans, whole grains, avocados, yogurt, bananas, dried fruit, and dark chocolate.
- Get enough vitamin C. Vitamin C rich foods are bell peppers, dark leafy greens, kiwifruit, broccoli, berries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, peas, and papayas.