Breast arterial calcifications (BACs) are common findings on mammograms. There are calcium deposits in the media layer of the peripheral arterioles and this condition is called Mönckeberg medial calcific sclerosis or medial arterial calcification. Many groups have reported the association of BAC with diabetes and cardiovascular risk, but there are few reports related to BAC and hypertension.
A recent study, published in Volume 18 (6) of Journal of Diabetes and its Complications was conducted with the aim to investigate the relationship between BAC and systemic hypertension (HT) and diabetes mellitus (DM).
For the study conducted in Turkey, mammograms and patient records of 2406 women who were screened for breast cancer or had undergone diagnostic mammography were reviewed retrospectively. Mammograms were evaluated for the presence of arterial calcification and results were coded. Patients who had been using insulin or oral hypoglycemic agents were included in the diabetic group; patients who had been using antihypertensive agents were included in the hypertensive group. Diabetes was defined as use of oral hypoglycemic agents or insulin and hypertension was defined as use of antihypertensive agents.
The prevalence of BACs among diabetics (25.4) was higher than among hypertensives (17.6%). The prevalence in the nondiabetic, nonhypertensive (NDNH) group was lowest (7.3%). The prevalence increased with age. BAC was seen almost four times more in diabetic patients and three times more in hypertensive patients than in NDNH controls.
Findings from this study suggest that there might be a potential relationship between the BAC and the duration of the diseases.
The authors stress that it is not known whether appropriate treatment for diabetes or hypertension decreases the prevalence of BAC. If the treatment decreases the prevalence of BAC, mammograms may play a role in the follow-up of antidiabetic and antihypertensive therapy.
Because breast pain and calcification decrease after renal transplantation in chronic renal diseases, the authors thought that the similar affect of appropriate treatment of DM and HT should be prospectively searched.
Finally, the researchers concluded that the odds of having DM and systemic HT increase in a patient with BAC, especially after 59 years of age. BAC on mammograms may indicate unsuspected diabetes or hypertension.