A Swedish study revealed that nearly 42% of middle-aged participants without known heart disease had atherosclerosis, the buildup of fatty deposits in the heart’s arteries. This condition can lead to coronary heart disease (CHD), which is the leading cause of death in the U.S. The study, which used advanced imaging techniques, found that 5% of participants had significant blood flow obstruction, and 2% had severe disease. Men, particularly older ones, had a higher prevalence of atherosclerosis.
Coronary artery calcium (CAC) scans are a common method to assess CHD risk, assigning scores based on the amount of calcified plaque detected. However, these scans can miss noncalcified plaques, which are also risky. The study used coronary computed tomography angiography (CCTA) to provide a more comprehensive picture of atherosclerosis. CCTA findings showed a strong correlation with increasing CAC scores, with a notable presence of atherosclerosis even in participants with a CAC score of 0.
The study’s findings highlight a need for long-term follow-up to understand the clinical significance of these findings and to develop effective screening strategies for high-risk individuals. Experts suggest that the results support more aggressive management of atherosclerosis risk factors, including education on healthy lifestyles and awareness of family history. Follow-up data from the study is anticipated in 2024-2025 to further explore the efficacy of CCTA compared to CAC scoring in predicting CHD risk.
- A Swedish study revealed that a significant portion of middle-aged adults without known heart disease had atherosclerosis, with men showing higher prevalence and severity.
- Coronary artery calcium (CAC) scores, used to estimate heart disease risk, do not detect all types of plaque, particularly noncalcified atherosclerosis.
- The findings suggest a need for more aggressive management of atherosclerosis risk factors and highlight the importance of healthy lifestyle choices to mitigate cardiovascular disease.
“It was really astounding that if you took a random group of 10 [relatively healthy people in their 50s into their 60s], four of these would have some degree of atherosclerosis, […] up to 5% of these people [would have] significant coronary artery disease — meaning 50% stenosis in their arteries — and around 2% of these people [would have] significant disease that we would consider very dangerous.”
More details: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326642