Doctors Can Predict Your Lifespan from Calcium Scans – According to doctors, a coronary calcium scan can help them predict how long their patients might live.
People with calcium deposits in their arteries have a six times greater risk of early death from heart disease than those who don’t. Calcium deposits develop as a response to plaque formation along the artery walls, says Leslee Shaw, a professor of cardiology at Emory University in Atlanta. Plaque is caused by blood cholesterol, and over time it can build up and cause arteries to narrow, leading to heart disease as the heart works harder to pump blood through the body.
Plaques can cause problems in other ways, too. Plaques can burst, and cause blood clots which can prevvent blood flow and cause heart attacks, or they can release the blood clots into the bloodstream, which can then flow into the brain and cause a stroke. Our bodies try to deal with this problem by fortifying the artery walls with calcium deposits. These calcified deposits show up in CT scans and can help determine if a person has hardened arteries.
For the study, researchers looked at calcium scans of over 9,715 healthy participants and tracked them over a period of 15 years. Researchers found that during this period, 936 patients died, and that the risk of premature death increased with the amount of calcium deposits found in a person’s major arteries. Those with small levels of calcium deposits had a 68% increase in death risk, while those with the largest amounts of calcium deposits had six times greater risk of early death than those with no calcium deposits.
According to Shaw, calcium scans can soon become a part of an individual’s regular health checkup, as these can help identify heart problems early on and help patients take remedial measures to improve their health by eating right, exercising, and taking blood pressure and high cholesterol medications as needed.