Living with Coronary Artery Calcification: How Long Can You Expect to Live?

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is a condition that can be managed, but not cured. This means that, once you have been diagnosed with coronary heart disease, you must learn to live with it for the rest of your life. By reducing your risk factors and overcoming your fears, you can still lead a full life despite CAD. A large cohort of patients referred for electron beam tomography (EBT) revealed that the coronary calcium score was particularly useful in identifying a group of asymptomatic high-risk individuals who continued to smoke.

This is the first analysis of the impact of smoking on the prognostic value of coronary artery calcification. Although prognostic data are available on the thickness of the carotid intima-media and measurements of the ankle-brachial index, previous reports have been contradictory regarding the association between smoking and coronary calcium. The results of this study are unique in that young smokers with high-risk calcium scores were found to have an elevated risk of death four to nine times higher than non-smokers of a similar age. In models that estimate a patient's life expectancy, patients with high-risk calcium scores had a significantly shorter life expectancy than those with low-risk scores.

Coronary artery calcification is a buildup of calcium in the two main arteries of the heart, also known as coronary arteries. Depending on the severity of the condition, you may need to undergo a procedure to remove calcium deposits from the coronary arteries, or you may simply need to adopt heart-healthy habits. This occurs after plaque (fat and cholesterol) has formed in the arteries (atherosclerosis) for about five years. Population data are available on the prognostic impact of smoking on atherosclerotic imaging measurements of the carotid and peripheral arteries.

That said, if you make all the necessary changes and wholeheartedly adopt a healthy lifestyle, you can still live a full and long life. Current tests on coronary calcium, together with previous data on an increased risk of events related to peripheral artery disease, reveal a similar pattern: smokers with high-risk subclinical atherosclerotic disease have an elevated risk of clinical complications. Good blood flow is essential in the coronary arteries because they supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle. By evaluating the usefulness of ankle brachial index measurements, smoking accelerates the rate of peripheral artery disease.Coronary artery calcium (CAC) is a subcomponent of atherosclerotic plaque and its extension, measured by the Agatston score, provides imaging evidence of the disease burden in the epicardial coronary arteries.

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