Science

Calcium In Arteries Raises Heart Attack Risk In Young Adults

By Donna Bellevue , Feb 09, 2017 12:09 AM EST
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A new research finds that the mere presence of even a small amount of calcium in arteries in young adults is closely tied to increased risk of developing clinical coronary heart disease over the next several years. More commonly known as coronary artery calcium (CAC), the condition is observed to occur in younger adults. The study points to CAC as an effective biomarker for heart disease early in life.

CAC is a very specific imaging biomarker for identifying younger people who have raised risk for cardiovascular conditions. It helps in giving early interventions such as cholesterol and blood pressure management, achieving a healthy BMI, quitting smoking and more. The scientific report was led by Vanderbilt investigators who study the effects of calcified coronary plaque in people under age 50, specifically, people in their 30s and 40s.

Appearing recently in JAMA Cardiology, the study measured calcium in the arteries through CAC scores by computed tomography (CT) scans. 3,330 subjects underwent CT scans and were monitored for 12.5 years. Those with the highest coronary artery calcium scores were found to have greater than 20 percent chance of dying due to heart disease over that same time period, the Science Daily reports.

CAC has previously been associated with cardiovascular disease. However, this is the first time that prognostic data in younger adult have been gathered. “What we showed was that, for younger people, any amount of coronary artery calcium or dramatically and statistically significantly increased risk of clinical heart disease,” Dr. Jeffrey Carr, lead author of the study, says.

According to the Web MD, he further explains that heart attack risk may not be apparent for younger people, but with any amount of coronary artery calcium, they are at very high risk over the next 10 years of their life. Early diagnosis is key to the prevention of any heart events. For individuals with any amount of calcium in arteries, there is an elevated risk, and the good news is, we have proven interventions that could reduce their risk.

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