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Coronary Calcium Predicts Array of Noncardiovascular Diseases

Coronary artery calcium (CAC) is independently associated with multiple age-related chronic diseases, although less so than for CVD itself, new findings from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) suggest.

A CAC imaging score of over 400 was independently associated with cancer, chronic kidney disease (CKD), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and hip fractures.

"This indicates that CAC indeed appears to be a marker of unhealthy aging and accumulated risk, placing individuals at risk for a variety of important diseases," senior author Dr Michael Blaha (Johns Hopkins Ciccarone Center for the Prevention of Heart Disease, Baltimore, MD) told heartwire from Medscape in an email.

On the other hand, patients with a CAC of zero appear to be protected from CVD and other chronic diseases. The relative hazard for a non-CVD event was cut 25% in these "healthy agers" vs those with detectable CAC, according to the report, published earlier this month in the JACC: Cardiovascular Imaging.