Is calcification of arteries fatal?

This can damage the heart muscle and be life-threatening. You've probably heard of the term “hardening of the arteries,” which is the same thing as calcification. Calcium forms hard crystals in the blood vessel wall. Arterial calcification is a gradual and progressive process seen in most people after the sixth decade of life.

This results in a reduction in arterial elasticity and a greater propensity for morbidity and mortality due to the deterioration of the hemodynamics of the cardiovascular system. In JAMA Cardiology, it was also revealed that people with the highest coronary artery calcium scores, measured using computed tomography (CT), were more than 20 percent likely to die from a cardiac event during that same period of time. Histological classifications are amorphic, chondromorphic, or osteomorphic, while metastatic (diffuse calcification) or dystrophic (non-metastatic) classifications are used to determine etiology. Carr said that the onset of early calcification depends on many factors, such as genetics, diet and lifestyle.

Whether the amount of calcification is high or low, Carr said it's a sign of advanced coronary artery disease. Several proteins have also been identified to play a role in the development of vascular calcification. After taking into account other risk factors and treatments, people with any type of calcific plaque had a five times greater risk of cardiovascular problems. Among people ages 32 to 46, even a small calcified plaque (called atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries) can increase fivefold the chance of developing fatal or non-fatal heart disease in the next 12 years, the researchers found.

These minerals are directly involved in the increase in vascular calcifications along with risk factors for arterial calcification. These patients tend to have a significantly higher risk of stroke and cardiovascular mortality than patients without medial artery calcification. In particular, there is a high risk of medial artery calcification with increasing age and hyperglycemia, since the arteries do not clog but instead harden. Care should also be taken with the use of certain drugs, such as vitamin K antagonists, which appear to have an accelerating effect on arterial calcification.

A major report led by Vanderbilt researchers found that the mere presence of even a small amount of calcified coronary plaque, more commonly known as coronary artery calcium (CAC), in people under 50 years of age was strongly associated with an increased risk of developing clinical coronary heart disease over the next decade. While some studies implicate PTH as another culprit in the pathogenesis of calcification, there are others that affirm that there is no association between PTH and arterial calcification. The degree of coronary artery calcification (CAC) and short-term adverse clinical outcomes are closely related over 5 years of follow-up. Arterial calcification consists mainly of precipitates of apatite calcium salt, similar to hydroxyapatite, found in bones.

However, it is reasonable to assume that reducing the reducable risk factors associated with arterial calcification may be a step in the right direction.

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