Calcium Buildup In Arteries May Increase Heart Risks In Women

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Women are more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than all cancers combined. Coronary artery specific imaging is necessary to define heart attack risk in women. In a landmark study by the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) investigators published in the Archives in Internal Medicine, the Framingham risk score (FRS) was shown to be inaccurate in defining coronary heart disease (CHD) risk in many women.

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According to the MESA investigators, the FRS defines the CHD risk in 95% of women between the ages of 45-84 years as low. In these "low risk" patients, 32% were found to have coronary artery calcium (CAC) present on cardiac CT imaging. There was a 6-fold greater risk for a CHD event including sudden cardiac death and myocardial infarction in women with any CAC compared with women with no detectable coronary calcium in this low FRS population.

According to Dr. Norman Lepor, co-director of cardiovascular imaging at Westside Medical Imaging (WMI) in Beverly Hills, "this study shows the limitations of the FRS which were developed in the late 1940's to assess the risk of CHD." The recently published SHAPE guidelines for cardiovascular screening recommends

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