The Nation's Health + Heart scan curiosities

Heart scan curiosities: Heart scan curiosities #4

Here's an interesting example of a 63-year old man with a heart scan score of 112. However, his aortic valve was also severely calcified (loaded with calcium). In other words, the normally flexible and mobile "leaflets" of the aortic valve were coated with calcium and other tissues that interfere with its free motion. The aortic valve is the starburst white in the center of the heart.



This is what the aortic valve should look like on a CT heart scan--you shouldn't see it at all.

The first man with the calcified valve will unfortunately require a new prosthetic aortic valve sometime in his future. This is usually determined with the help of an ultrasound, or echocardiogram, a better test for assessment of the aortic valve (though useless for detection of coronary plaque).

It's my suspicion that chronic and longstanding deficiency of vitamin D is among the factors that contribute to the abnormal deposition of calcium on the aortic valve. We desperately need more data on this. Nonetheless, perhaps this adds yet another reason to 1)get a CT heart scan, and 2) bring your vitamin D blood level to normal. (We aim for 50 ng/ml year round.)

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