March 28, 2016 – Coronary Calcium


Anchor lead: Coronary calcium can reveal more than heart disease, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Coronary calcium scanning may be a method for predicting a host of diseases besides heart disease, a study by Michael Blaha, a preventive cardiology expert at Johns Hopkins, and colleagues, has shown.

Blaha: We found in this study that coronary artery calcium scores, which are a test to see how much plaque one has in their coronary arteries, are predictive not only of cardiovascular disease but of a variety of non-cardiovascular outcomes that we think are related to aging.   :14

Blaha says things like cancer, kidney and lung disease are also related to coronary calcium levels.

Blaha: We think these tests actually integrate all the risk factor exposures one has had over their lifetime and measures kind of their cumulative damage in their arteries. And this happens to be predictive of a lot of different things. So independent of one’s age and a lot of other factors, this coronary calcium score is at least mildly to moderately predictive of these other chronic diseases independent of other risk factors for those diseases.  :23

Blaha says more study is needed before coronary calcium scanning will be used for this purpose but says the test is both quick and noninvasive.  At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.