Mammo study seeks cardiac connection

Could screening mammography pick up early signs of coronary artery disease in women? It's an intriguing possibility, and one that's being investigated by California researchers in an article we're featuring this week in our Women's Imaging Digital Community.

Dear AuntMinnie Member,

Could screening mammography pick up early signs of coronary artery disease in women? It's an intriguing possibility, and one that's being investigated by California researchers in an article we're featuring this week in our Women's Imaging Digital Community.

According to the story, by staff writer Shalmali Pal, researchers at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland reviewed mammograms taken in the 1960s and '70s for signs of calcifications in breast vasculature. Such calcifications are considered to be possible precursors to coronary heart disease, stroke, and heart failure.

After following up the study cohort over the years, the group did indeed find a link between breast vascular calcification on mammograms and higher risk of coronary heart disease, as well as ischemic stroke. The researchers did note some limitations of their study, such as the age of the equipment used and the lack of data on the locations of the calcifications.

The group concludes with a call for more research on the topic, especially studies using other heart imaging modalities. If future research confirms the Kaiser findings, however, women's imaging specialists could find themselves with a new technique for early diagnosis of a pathology that kills nearly 10 times more women each year than breast disease.

Read all about it in our Women's Imaging Digital Community, at womens.auntminnie.com, where you'll also find a new article on how prenatal screening with nuchal translucency ultrasound and maternal serum analysis has led to lower amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling rates in pregnant women.

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