Heart Attack Predictors Evaluated

CHICAGO, April 27 (UPI) — U.S. medical researchers determined a person’s coronary artery calcium score, together with traditional risk factors, can better predict heart attacks.

A coronary artery calcium score is the result of imaging that provides pictures of calcium deposits suggesting signs of atherosclerosis. Traditional risk factors are age, gender, tobacco use, blood pressure, antihypertensive medication use, cholesterol levels and race/ethnicity.

The Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine scientists said their findings show, for the first time, that using a person’s coronary artery calcium score in combination with traditional risk factors provides a better prediction of heart attack than using just traditional predictors.

“Almost one-quarter of the people in the study who had heart attacks were considered intermediate risk based on traditional risk factors alone, but were considered high risk once we included their coronary artery calcium score,” said Dr. Tamar Polonsky, lead author of the study.

The researchers said they predicted the risk of future coronary heart disease events in the 6,000 volunteers in the study using two methods — traditional risk factors alone and traditional factors plus coronary artery calcium scores.

Nearly six years later, 209 of the participants had suffered some type of coronary disease event. When looking at their risk levels, researchers found the coronary artery calcium score was key in classifying people in the most extreme categories.

The research is reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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