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Arterial calcification: Friend or foe?
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Cardiology.
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Cardiology. Umeå Heart Centre.
2013 (English)In: International Journal of Cardiology, ISSN 0167-5273, E-ISSN 1874-1754, Vol. 167, no 2, 322-327 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

There is a significant relationship between the presence, extent and progression of coronary artery calcification (CAC) and cardiovascular (CV) events and mortality in both CV and renal patients and CAC scoring can provide improved predictive ability over risk factor scoring alone. There is also a close relationship between CAC presence and atherosclerotic plaque burden, with angiography studies showing very high sensitivity but poor specificity of CAC score for predicting obstructive disease. Nevertheless, there are objections to CAC screening because of uncertainties and lack of studies showing improved outcome. Furthermore, histopathology studies indicate that heavily calcified plaque is unlikely to result in a CV event, while the vulnerable plaque tends to be uncalcified or 'mixed', suggesting that calcification may be protective. This scenario highlights a number of paradoxes, which may indicate that the association between CAC and CV events is spurious, following from the adoption of CAC as a surrogate for high plaque burden, which itself is a surrogate for the presence of vulnerable plaque. Since studies indicate that arterial calcification is a complex, organised and regulated process similar to bone formation, there is no particular reason why it should be a reliable indicator of either the plaque burden or the risk of a future CV event. We suggest that it is time to divorce arterial calcification from atherosclerosis and to view it as a distinct pathology in its own right, albeit one which frequently coexists with atherosclerosis and is related to it for reasons which are not yet fully understood.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 167, no 2, 322-327 p.
National Category
Cardiac and Cardiovascular Systems
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-65098DOI: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2012.06.110PubMedID: 22809537OAI: diva2:603341
Available from: 2013-02-05 Created: 2013-02-05 Last updated: 2014-03-14Bibliographically approved

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Nicoll, RachelHenein, Michael Y
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