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Am J Cardiol. 2004 Feb 15;93(4):421-5.

Association of aortic valve calcium detected by electron beam computed tomography with echocardiographic aortic valve disease and with calcium deposits in the coronary arteries and thoracic aorta.

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  • 1National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute's Framingham Heart Study, National Institutes of Health, Framingham, MA 01702, USA.


We conducted electron beam computed tomographic (EBCT) testing in a representative sample of 327 Framingham Heart Study subjects without clinical cardiovascular disease. EBCT was compared with 2-dimensional echocardiography for the detection of degenerative aortic valve (AV) disease. We determined the association between EBCT measures of AV calcium and calcium deposits in the coronary arteries and thoracic aorta. Of 327 subjects (mean age 60 +/- 9 years; 51% men), 14% had EBCT AV calcium (median Agatston score 0, range 0 to 1,592). The prevalence of AV calcium increased predictably across decades of age. Compared with echocardiography, the sensitivity and specificity of EBCT for the detection of degenerative AV disease were 24% and 94%, respectively. In unadjusted logistic regression models, the prevalence of EBCT AV calcium increased across tertiles of coronary artery calcium (for trend across tertiles, odds ratio [OR] 2.2, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.4 to 3.5) and thoracic aorta calcium (for trend OR 2.8, 95% CI 1.7 to 4.4). After adjustment for age and gender, the associations of AV calcium with coronary calcium and thoracic aorta calcium were attenuated and no longer statistically significant. Thus, compared with echocardiography, EBCT was specific but insensitive for the detection of degenerative AV disease. EBCT AV calcium was associated with calcium deposits in the coronary arteries and the thoracic aorta, but these associations were confounded by age and risk factors.

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