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Calcium Deposits Help Predict Coronary Heart Disease Risk

Abdominal aortic calcium deposits associated with risk of claudication, ischemic stroke

THURSDAY, Feb. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Abdominal aortic calcium deposits are an independent risk factor for intermittent claudication and ischemic stroke, and deposit levels may be a useful tool for stratification of those at intermediate risk of coronary heart disease, according to research published in the Feb. 1 issue of the American Journal of Cardiology.

Yamini S. Levitzky, M.D., of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's Framingham Heart Study in Framingham, Mass., and colleagues analyzed data from 848 men and 1,301 women who were participants in the original Framingham Heart Study.

During 32 years of follow-up, there were 199 incidences of intermittent claudication, 201 ischemic strokes, 702 coronary heart disease events and 1,121 cardiovascular disease events. The subjects' abdominal aortic calcium deposits were graded, and those in the third versus the first tertile were at 68 percent higher risk of intermittent claudication. The increased risk for ischemic stroke was 73 percent, while the risk of coronary heart and cardiovascular disease was 59 percent and 64 percent higher, respectively.

"The magnitude of risk conferred by abdominal aortic calcium for intermittent claudication and ischemic stroke is comparable to or exceeds that for coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease," the authors write. "Abdominal aortic calcium determined by plain lumbar radiography appears to be a simple tool to improve risk stratification for patients at low or intermediate cardiovascular risk."

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