Vascular calcification: pathophysiology and risk factors

Curr Hypertens Rep. 2012 Jun;14(3):228-37. doi: 10.1007/s11906-012-0265-8.


Vascular calcification can occur in nearly all arterial beds and in both the medial and intimal layers. The initiating factors and clinical consequences depend on the underlying disease state and location of the calcification. The best studied manifestation is coronary artery calcification, in part because of the obvious clinical consequences, but also because of CT-based imaging modalities. In the general population, the presence of coronary artery calcification increases cardiovascular risk above that predicted by traditional Framingham risk factors, suggesting the presence of nontraditional risk factors. In patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD), coronary artery calcification is more prevalent and markedly more severe than in the general population. In these CKD patients, nontraditional risk factors such as oxidative stress, advanced glycation end products, and disordered mineral metabolism are also more prevalent and more severe and offer mechanistic insight into the pathogenesis of vascular calcification.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Coronary Vessels / physiopathology*
  • Diabetes Complications*
  • Glycation End Products, Advanced / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / complications*
  • Inflammation / complications*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / physiopathology
  • Minerals / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / physiopathology
  • Risk Factors
  • Vascular Calcification / epidemiology
  • Vascular Calcification / etiology*
  • Vascular Calcification / physiopathology*


  • Glycation End Products, Advanced
  • Minerals