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Am Heart J. 2002 Oct;144(4):733-9.

Abdominal aortic calcific deposits are associated with increased risk for congestive heart failure: the Framingham Heart Study.

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Framingham Heart Study, Framingham, Mass 01702, USA.



We sought to determine the association of aortic atherosclerosis, detected by calcific deposits in the abdominal aorta seen on lateral lumbar radiographs, with risk for congestive heart failure (CHF).


Although the association between atherosclerotic coronary heart disease (CHD) and CHF has been extensively studied, there are limited prospective data regarding the association of extracoronary atherosclerosis with CHF.


Lateral lumbar radiographs were obtained in 2467 Framingham Heart Study participants (1030 males and 1437 females) free of CHF in 1968. An abdominal aortic calcium (AAC) score was calculated for each subject based on the extent of calcium in the abdominal aorta. Proportional hazards models were used to test for associations between AAC score and CHF risk.


There were 141 cases of CHF in men and 169 cases in women. In men, the multivariable-adjusted risk for CHF was increased for the second (hazards ratio [HR] 1.5, 95% CI 0.9-2.5) and third (HR 2.2, 95% CI 1.3-3.7) tertiles compared with the lowest tertile. Similarly, in women, the multivariable-adjusted risk for CHF was increased for the second (HR 1.8, 95% CI 1.1-2.9) and third (HR 3.2, 95% CI 2.0-5.1) tertiles compared with the lowest tertile. After further adjustment for CHD occurring prior to the onset of CHF, risk remained significantly increased for both men and women.


Atherosclerosis of the abdominal aorta is an important risk factor for CHF, independent of CHD and other risk factors. Noninvasive detection and quantification of atherosclerosis may be useful in identifying high-risk individuals likely to benefit from strategies aimed at preventing CHF. The possibility of a link between AAC and vascular compliance deserves further study.

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