Features July 2010 Issue

Coronary Artery Calcium Levels Help Predict Heart Risk

By looking at calcium buildup and other factors, such as blood pressure, doctors can better classify a patientís odds of a coronary heart disease event.

Traditional risk factors for heart disease include blood pressure, age, cholesterol levels, smoking and diabetes. And while those criteria can help classify a person into low, intermediate or high-risk categories, thereís another key piece of data that has shown to be especially valuable at helping predict an individualís odds of developing heart disease or having a cardiac event. In a study published in the April 27 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that adding a personís coronary artery calcium (CAC) score to those traditional risk factors led to a significantly better prediction of heart events than the traditional risk factors alone.

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