Nav: Home

Calcium in arteries is shown to increase patients' imminent risk of a heart attack

March 16, 2019

About six million people come into an emergency department every year with chest pain, but not all of them are having a heart attack -- and many are not even at risk or are at very low risk for having one.

Now, a new research study presented at the American College Cardiology Scientific Sessions from the Intermountain Healthcare Heart Institute in Salt Lake City shows that identifying the presence or absence of coronary artery calcium (CAC) in a patients' arteries can help determine their future risk.

"Through these results, we're seeing more clearly that the presence of coronary artery calcium can help us to predict who is more likely to have a cardiac event, not only later in life, but when symptoms are present, in the near future and hopefully, medically intervene in time to stop it," said Viet T. Le, PA-C, principal investigator and researcher at the Intermountain Healthcare Heart Institute in Salt Lake City.

Results of the study were presented at the American College of Cardiology Scientific Sessions in Atlanta on March 16, 2019.

For the study, researchers identified 5,547 patients without a history of coronary artery disease who came to Intermountain Medical Center with chest pain between April 2013 and June 2016.

These patients had undergone PET/CT scans to assess for ischemia, a disruption of normal blood flow through the heart arteries to the muscle tissues of the heart. This scan also looks for the presence of CAC, which are calcium deposits on the walls of the heart's arteries, indicating atherosclerosis, or plaque, the hallmark of heart disease. The researchers then examined patients' medical outcomes for up to the next four years.

Researchers found that patients whose scans revealed CAC were at higher risk of having a heart event within 90 days compared with patients whose PET/CT showed they had no CAC. Researchers also found that patients with CAC were also more likely over the following years to have high-grade obstructive coronary artery disease, revascularization surgery, and/or other major adverse cardiac events than patients who had no coronary artery calcium.

The findings can be used in two different ways, said Le.

First, testing for CAC can help emergency departments quickly identify those patients with chest pain, but are not in acute distress as being at risk for a future heart event from those who may have non-heart related symptoms and should follow up with their primary care physician to identify the true source of the chest pain, which may be as simple as a pulled muscle. These CAC scans are non-invasive, use only as much radiation as a mammogram, and are relatively cheap, especially compared to PET/CT stress tests, Le said.

Second, CAC isn't easily visually identifiable at low or moderate levels in the arteries without a formal scan. Checking patients who are not actively found to be experiencing a heart event but who have suspicious symptoms when they come to the ED can help physicians identify who is at risk for a future event. This allows for early initiation of risk reducing lifestyle changes in those found to have CAC to avoid future events.

"We can have that discussion about improving their lifestyle a little sooner this way because they may not be having an acute event but they're looking down the barrel of one, so let's see if we can move that barrel away," said Le.

Future studies are needed to demonstrate whether a CAC first strategy in these symptomatic patients will better identify those who should have further stress testing as well as improve patient education and early implementation of risk reducing strategies.
-end-
This research was funded by the Intermountain Foundation.

Intermountain Medical Center

Related Heart Attack Articles:

Where you live could determine risk of heart attack, stroke or dying of heart disease
People living in parts of Ontario with better access to preventive health care had lower rates of cardiac events compared to residents of regions with less access, found a new study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
Activated T-cells drive post-heart attack heart failure
Chronic inflammation after a heart attack can promote heart failure and death.
ICU care for COPD, heart failure and heart attack may not be better
Does a stay in the intensive care unit give patients a better chance of surviving a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or heart failure flare-up or even a heart attack, compared with care in another type of hospital unit?
Heart attack treatment might be in your face
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati have received $2.4 million in federal funding to pursue research on a novel cell therapy that would repair heart damage using modified cells taken from the patient's own facial muscle.
Tissue engineering advance reduces heart failure in model of heart attack
Researchers have grown heart tissue by seeding a mix of human cells onto a 1-micron-resolution scaffold made with a 3-D printer.
Study shows functional effects of human stem cell delivery to heart muscle after heart attack
Researchers delivered human stem cells seeded in biological sutures to the damaged heart muscles of rats following induced acute myocardial infarction and assessed the effects on cardiac function one week later.
Younger heart attack survivors may face premature heart disease death
For patients age 50 and younger, the risk of premature death after a heart attack has dropped significantly, but their risk is still almost twice as high when compared to the general population, largely due to heart disease and other smoking-related diseases The risk of heart attack can be greatly reduced by quitting smoking, exercising and following a healthy diet.
After the heart attack: Injectable gels could prevent future heart failure (video)
During a heart attack, clots or narrowed arteries block blood flow, harming or killing cells in the heart.
Heart failure after first heart attack may increase cancer risk
People who develop heart failure after their first heart attack have a greater risk of developing cancer when compared to first-time heart attack survivors without heart failure, according to a study today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
1 in 4 patients develop heart failure within 4 years of first heart attack
One in four patients develop heart failure within four years of a first heart attack, according to a study in nearly 25,000 patients presented today at Heart Failure 2016 and the 3rd World Congress on Acute Heart Failure by Dr.

Related Heart Attack Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#SB2 2019 Science Birthday Minisode: Mary Golda Ross
Our second annual Science Birthday is here, and this year we celebrate the wonderful Mary Golda Ross, born 9 August 1908. She died in 2008 at age 99, but left a lasting mark on the science of rocketry and space exploration as an early woman in engineering, and one of the first Native Americans in engineering. Join Rachelle and Bethany for this very special birthday minisode celebrating Mary and her achievements. Thanks to our Patreons who make this show possible! Read more about Mary G. Ross: Interview with Mary Ross on Lash Publications International, by Laurel Sheppard Meet Mary Golda...