Mammograms may help radiologists detect coronary artery disease in women, according to a Mayo Clinic study presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago. The study found that women who show a certain level of calcium deposits--calcification--in their breasts have a 20% increased risk of heart disease compared with other women of the same age. The study reviewed mammograms from 1,880 patients who underwent coronary angiography and mammography within one year of each other at the Mayo Clinic between 1991 and 2001. Women with breast calcification showed a 40% increased risk for coronary artery disease compared with all women and a 20% increased risk after the data were adjusted for age. The average age of the women in the study was 65. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for women; 63% of the women who die suddenly from heart disease showed no previous symptoms, the researchers said. Mammography, the gold standard for screening women over the age of 40 for breast cancer, also has withstood its share of controversy in recent years as studies questioned its clinical value while providers complained about poor reimbursement. -- by Cinda Becker
Mammogram may detect heart disease
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