Breast Arterial Calcification on Mammography Tied to CVD Risk

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The presence of breast arterial calcification on routine mammography in postmenopausal women may indicate increased cardiovascular risk

TUESDAY, March 15, 2022 (HealthDay News) — The presence of breast arterial calcification (BAC) on routine mammograms in postmenopausal women is associated with an increased risk for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) and global CVD, according to a study published in the March issue of Circulation: Cardiovascular Imaging.

Carlos Iribarren, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., from Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara Medical Center in California, and colleagues conducted a cohort study involving 5,059 women aged 60 to 79 years recruited after attending mammography screening between October 2012 and February 2015. Digital mammograms were used to determine BAC status (presence versus absence) and quantity (calcium mass mg).

The researchers found that 26 percent of women had BAC >0 mg. Overall, 3.0 and 8.4 percent had ASCVD events and global CVD events, respectively, after a mean follow-up of 6.5 years. The presence of BAC was associated with increased hazards of ASCVD and global CVD after adjustment for traditional CVD risk factors (hazard ratios, 1.51 and 1.23, respectively). No evidence of a dose-response association was seen with ASCVD, but for global CVD, there was a threshold effect observed at very high BAC burden. BAC status provided additional stratification of risk, with improvements noted in model calibration and reclassification of ASCVD; after adding BAC status, there was an overall net reclassification improvement of 0.12 and a bias-corrected clinical-net reclassification improvement of 0.11.

“We hope that our study will encourage an update of the guidelines for reporting breast arterial calcification from routine mammograms,” Iribarren said in a statement.

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