AS A CARDIOLOGIST who sees many female patients, I encourage all of them to receive regular mammograms in order to take preventive action and precautions against breast cancer. However, a recent study has reported that the breast arterial calcification (BAC) score — which is used in standard digital mammography to measure the number of blood vessels in the breast and the extent of calcification — also is able to help doctors determine the risk of cardiovascular disease and assist in predicting a patient’s coronary calcification.
If calcified vessels were identified on the mammogram, the investigators calculated the BAC score by evaluating the number of coronary vessels involved, the length of the vessels involved, and the density of calcium involved in those arteries. It was reported that the BAC score was able to predict the presence of coronary artery calcium with an accuracy of almost 70 percent. If breast arterial calcification is a surrogate for coronary artery calcium, or if it could augment documented risk-factor analysis, mammography could play a part in cardiovascular disease prevention and early intervention.
A study such as this is very significant, mainly because women who are in the age group of being more at risk for cardiovascular disease are also at the age when they should be having regular mammograms. This has been described as the “perfect storm” for helping prevent two potentially life-threatening diseases. The important thing to remember, however, is that it begins with getting your regularly scheduled mammogram. I hope that you use these new research findings as all-the-more motivation to prevent breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, and stay healthy!
This column is sponsored by Heart & Vascular Institute of Florida.
column by IRFAN SIDDIQUI, DO, FACC, FSCAI
BIO: Dr. Siddiqui is a board-certified interventional cardiologist and a practicing physician at the Heart & Vascular Institute of Florida. He takes pride in taking an integrated approach for his patients to provide comprehensive, consistent care. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (863) 42-HEART and ask to meet with Dr. Siddiqui.