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Breast Arterial Calcification: a New Marker of Cardiovascular Risk?

Mammographically-detected breast arterial calcifications (BAC) are considered to be an incidental finding without clinical importance since they are not associated with increased risk of breast cancer. The goal of this article is to review existing evidence that the presence of BAC on mammography correlates with several (but not all) traditional cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors and with prevalent and incident CVD. Thus, BAC detected during routine mammography is a noteworthy finding that could be valuable in identifying asymptomatic women at increased future CVD risk that may be candidates for more aggressive management. In addition, there are notable differences in measures of subclinical atherosclerosis burden in women (ie, coronary artery calcification) by race/ethnic background, and the same appears to be true for BAC, although data are very limited. Another noteworthy limitation of prior research on BAC is the reliance on absence vs presence of BAC; no study to date has determined gradation of BAC. Further research is thus required to elucidate the role of BAC gradation in the prediction of CVD outcomes and to determine whether adding BAC gradation to prediction models based on traditional risk factors improves classification of CVD risk.

Authors: Iribarren C; Molloi S

Curr Cardiovasc Risk Rep. 2013 Apr;7(2):126-135. Epub 2013-02-03.

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