How prevalent is calcification in atherosclerosis?

Updated: Dec 30, 2019
  • Author: Elena R Ladich, MD; Chief Editor: Allen Patrick Burke, MD  more...
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Focal calcification in atherosclerotic plaques is common and increases with age. Although calcification is a good marker for plaque burden, absolute calcium scores do not indicate plaques that are unstable or prone to clinical events but are predictors of future events. An autopsy study has demonstrated a good correlation between plaque size and morphometric analysis of calcification, but no correlation between residual lumen and calcification was identified. [14]

A study comparing the 10-year Framingham risk index, histologic coronary calcification, and culprit plaque morphology in 79 consecutive adults with sudden coronary death demonstrated a modest relationship between the Framingham risk index and the extent of histologic coronary calcification (r = 0.35, p = 0.002). [15] The addition of coronary artery calcium score of more than 400 (as assessed by CT scanning) to the Framingham Risk Score has resulted in a higher reclassification rate in the intermediate-risk cohort, thus showing the benefit of imaging. [16]

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