Can routine mammograms help determine heart atherosclerosis risk?

By TNT Bureau

Apr 6, 2016: In today’s time of increasing healthcare costs, it’s not regular that a medical procedure gives dual benefits for the cost of one. However, researchers have revealed that women who acquire a routine mammogram to monitor for breast cancer might acquire a bonus: and that is screening for coronary artery disease. In a study presented at the American College of Cardiology (ACC) researchers said that routine mammograms  show hardened cholesterol in the arteries.

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The head researcher, Laurie Margolies said that arteries provide the breasts with nourishment the same manner they supply the feet, the brain and the heart. She also said that the hardening of atherosclerosis can impact the arteries in the breast in the same manner can affect the heart and the brain.

Mammograms are planned to recognize calcifications such as the buildup of calcium salt since calcifications may designate early cancer. Calcifications in the arteries come up as parallel lines rather than uneven patterns seen in calcifications that may designate cancer in breast tissue. The team speculates whether recognizing those parallel lines can help doctors conclude women’s risk for coronary artery disease.

Comparison between mammograms and related heart disease screenings

The investigators used the women’s danger factors to analyze two measures that doctors often use to conclude how likely someone is to develop heart disease. One is the risk evaluation tool from the Framingham Heart Study that uses smoking status, sex, age, cholesterol levels etc to measure risk. Then there is the ASCVD risk estimator that uses the same information while also bearing in mind the race and diabetes history of a person.

The reports indicated calcifications in the breast arteries among 43% of the women. The probability of having these calcifications augmented with age, high blood pressure and unceasing kidney disease. Having these calcifications correctly identified women with atherosclerosis 63% of the time. About one-quarter of the women whose mammograms didn’t illustrate hardening in the breast arteries in fact did have atherosclerosis.

How to handle heart disease risk

Even though getting heart-risk information from mammograms can be supportive, one shouldn’t look for a mammogram for the reason of determining heart disease risk. The main risk factors carry on being smoking, high cholesterol levels, hypertension, family history, sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy diet.

Women with a higher risk for heart disease can have a coronary calcium scan, which looks for calcifications in heart arteries. But this test is not routinely suggested in women under age 50 unless they are very high-risk, as it involves twice the radiation of a mammogram.

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Women with heart symptoms, like chest pain or shortness of breath, need more detailed cardiac testing, such as stress testing or echocardiography. It is significant to see your doctor if you have any warning signs that occur with exertion, or any uneasiness about your heart at all.

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