OBJECTIVE: To estimate whether mammography can be an early, valid tool for predicting the development of coronary heart disease (CHD) in women.
METHODS: Women presenting for routine mammograms between June and August 2004 were recruited for the study. Baseline data collected included risk factors and family history of heart disease, as well as any cardiac events experienced by the patient. Similar follow-up data were collected during subsequent years, and these patient-completed surveys were correlated with the baseline mammograms screened for breast arterial calcifications.
RESULTS: Throughout the 5-year follow-up, CHD was present in 20.8% of women who screened positive for breast arterial calcification and in 5.4% of who screened negative for breast arterial calcification (P<.001). Among women who did not have CHD at baseline, breast arterial calcification-positive women were more likely to develop CHD or a stroke than those who were breast arterial calcification-negative (6.3% compared with 2.3%, P=.003; and 58.3% compared with 13.3%, P<.001), respectively. These results remained significant even when controlling for age.
CONCLUSION: The presence of breast arterial calcifications on mammograms indicates a significantly increased risk of developing CHD or a stroke. These results suggest that breast arterial calcifications should be routinely reported on mammograms and viewed as a marker for the development of CHD.
LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: II