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ACC: Mammograms May Also Help Identify Cardiovascular Disease

The breast screening test compared well to heart CT scans, researchers say

FRIDAY, March 25, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Mammography may also be effective for identifying cardiovascular disease in women, according to a study published online March 24 in JACC: Cardiovascular Imaging. The research will also be presented at the upcoming annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology, to be held from April 2 to 4 in Chicago.

Laurie Margolies, M.D., director of breast imaging at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, and colleagues analyzed the results from 292 women who had digital mammography. The women also all had a separate, unrelated computed tomography (CT) scan within a year of their breast cancer screening. The researchers reviewed the digital mammograms for signs of breast arterial calcification (BAC), and found that 42.5 percent of women in the study had BAC. The research team compared those results to the CT scans.

The investigators found that about seven out of 10 of the women who had evidence of BAC on their mammogram were also found to have coronary artery calcification (CAC). About half of the women younger than 60 with CAC also had BAC. If a younger woman had BAC, there was an 83 percent chance she also had CAC.

If follow-up studies confirm these findings, a woman’s mammogram could become a “two-fer” screening that covers both breast cancer and cardiovascular disease, Margolies told HealthDay. “By adding no cost, no radiation, and very little time, we can find calcification in the vessels,” Margolies said. “This is potentially practice-changing in how radiologists read and report mammography. It’s a revolutionary way to assess risk.”

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