A new study by Edith Cowan University has shown that calcium buildup in the main artery outside the heart could predict a heart attack or future stroke. The research, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, could help doctors identify people at risk for cardiovascular disease years before symptoms appear.
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In an analysis of 52 previous studies, an international team of researchers found that people with abdominal aortic calcification (AAC) were two to four times more likely to have a future cardiovascular event. The study also found this the higher the calcium in the blood vessel wall, the greater the risk of future cardiovascular events and people with ACD and chronic kidney disease had an even greater risk than others.
Calcium can build up in the wall of blood vessels and harden the arteries, block the blood supply or cause the plaque to rupture, which is the leading cause of heart attacks and strokes. Factors that contribute to arterial calcification include a poor diet, a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and genetics.
Prediction of the silent killer
Associate Professor Josh Lewis of the ECU School of Medical and Health Sciences and Head of the Heart Foundation, Josh Lewis, said these findings provide important information about cardiovascular health.
“Heart disease is often a silent killer because many people are unaware that they are at risk or showing early warning signs, such as calcification of the abdominal or coronary arteries,” he said. “The abdominal aorta is one of the first places where calcium can build up in the arteries, even in front of the heart. If we identify it in time, we can intervene and implement lifestyle changes and treatment to prevent the disease from getting worse. ”
Associate Professor Lewis hopes this discovery will lead more people to understand their own risk of heart attack or stroke.
“Abdominal aortic calcification is often accidentally detected in many routine tests, such as spine examinations of various bone density machines or X-ray machines, but we now have a much better idea of the prognosis of these people when they are visible. This can mean early warning to doctors who need to examine and assess the patient’s risk of heart attack or stroke. Finally, if we can identify this condition sooner, people can make lifestyle changes and start preventative treatment sooner, which can save many lives in the future. ”
Researchers from INSERM, the Hindu and Marcus Institute for Research on Aging, the University of Sydney, the University of Western Australia and the University of Minnesota participated in the international study. The study is based on recent research by Associate Professor Lewis, who scanned bone density and artificial intelligence to identify and quantify calcification of the abdominal aorta.
A promising future
Associate Professor Josh Lewis received support from the National Heart Foundation of Australia Future Leader Fellowship. Amanda Buttery, Heart Foundation’s director of clinical evidence, welcomed the study.
“The researchers found that evidence of abdominal aortic calcification in patients without known cardiovascular disease may suggest a more comprehensive assessment of cardiovascular risk., including blood pressure and cholesterol tests or heart health tests, “Buttery said.
The findings are promising and the Heart Foundation would like to investigate further in this area. “The prognostic value of abdominal aortic calcification: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies” was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
health prevention heart attack cardiovascular disease calcium