Bone density scans mainly used to determine fracture risk can now be an aid in identifying cardiovascular disease, reveals scientists from Hebrew SeniorLife's Institute for Aging Research, University of Western Australia, University of Sydney, and Edith Cowan University. The findings of the study are published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.
Researchers analyzed the bone density scans of over 1000 older women from Australia for the presence of calcium deposits in the large artery in the abdomen called the aorta. They graded the severity of these calcium deposits using scans done for osteoporosis screening . They then followed the women for almost 15 years to determine the occurrence of cardiovascular disease within the cohort.
"We found that that the presence of calcifications increased the likelihood of having cardiovascular disease such as heart attacks, and even the likelihood of cardiovascular deaths and mortality in general." Said Co-author Douglas P. Kiel, M.D., M.P.H., Director, Musculoskeletal Research Center at Hebrew SeniorLife's Institute for Aging Research. "Our study highlights the fact that having a bone density test not only tells women about their risk of fracture, but also their long term risk for cardiovascular disease. This makes bone density testing even more useful in screening."