Patterns and risk factors for systemic calcified atherosclerosis

Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2004 Feb;24(2):331-6. doi: 10.1161/01.ATV.0000110786.02097.0c. Epub 2003 Dec 4.


Objective: Complex atherosclerotic lesions contain radio-opaque calcium hydroxyapatite deposits with the degree of calcification correlating with the extent of atherosclerosis. In this study, we aim to determine the patterns of systemic atherosclerotic calcification.

Methods and results: Whole-body electron beam computed tomography scans were performed on 650 asymptomatic subjects to assess the carotid, coronary, proximal, and distal aorta and iliac vessels for atherosclerotic calcification. The mean age was 57.3 and 53% were male. Correlation patterns were similar in both genders, with the largest interbed correlations between the distal aorta and iliac vessels (r=0.51 to 0.60). The average man and woman had calcium earliest in the coronaries (younger than age 50 years) and the distal aorta (age 50 to 60), respectively. The prevalence of calcium was greater than 80% for most beds in men older than age 70 and greater than 60% in all beds for women. Approximately on third of subjects younger than 50 were free of calcified disease, whereas all subjects older than 70 were found to have some calcium. Age and hypertension were the dominant risk factors for systemic calcified atherosclerosis.

Conclusions: This study confirms that there are significant correlations and risk factor associations for calcified atherosclerosis in different vascular beds.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Arteriosclerosis / diagnosis
  • Arteriosclerosis / epidemiology*
  • Calcinosis / diagnosis
  • Calcinosis / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular System / diagnostic imaging
  • Cardiovascular System / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sex Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / statistics & numerical data