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J Atheroscler Thromb. 2009 Jun;16(3):256-64. Epub 2009 Jun 25.

Validity and usefulness of aortic arch calcification in chest X-ray.

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Department of Geriatric Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, University of Tokyo, Tokyo 113-8655, Japan.



Arterial calcification is associated with cardiovascular (CV) disease, to be leading to vessel wall stiffness and causing the management of hemodynamics in the elderly more difficult. Here, we compared the extent of calcification in the aortic arch by reviewing chest X-rays to that in the abdominal aorta as assessed by more detailed examinations. In addition, the validity of the grading and the relationship of this useful grading to clinical risk factors were evaluated.


The extent of aortic arch calcification (AAC) on a postero-anterior plain chest X-ray was divided into four grades (0 to 3). First, AAC grade was assessed in patients who underwent two quantitative examinations for abdominal aortic calcification; lateral radiograph of lumbar spine and/or computer tomography, and was positively correlated with the abdominal aortic calcification level. Subsequently, AAC grade in 239 out-patients (115 men; mean age, 61.9 years) was also evaluated, and was 0, 1, 2, and 3 in 46%, 22%, 29%, and 4% of the population, respectively, was significantly associated with pulse pressure and intima-media thickness. AAC grade in patients with diabetes or renal dysfunction was significantly higher than in those without each risk, but there was no association with other risk factors. In addition, AAC grade was positively correlated with risk factor clustering.


Assessment of AAC detectable on a chest X-ray is very useful and its grade reflects the magnitude of calcified change in the whole aorta. In addition, AAC evaluation may provide supportive information for atherosclerotic risk stratification.

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