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Am J Cardiol. 2012 Sep 15;110(6):891-6. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2012.05.020. Epub 2012 Jun 20.

Prevalence and distribution of abdominal aortic calcium by gender and age group in a community-based cohort (from the Framingham Heart Study).

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National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's Framingham Heart Study, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.


Abdominal aortic calcium (AAC) is associated with incident cardiovascular disease. However, the age- and gender-related distribution of AAC in a community-dwelling population free of standard cardiovascular disease risk factors has not been described. A total of 3,285 participants (aged 50.2 ± 9.9 years) in the Framingham Heart Study Offspring and Third Generation cohorts underwent abdominal multidetector computed tomography from 1998 to 2005. The presence and amount of AAC was quantified (Agatston score) by an experienced reader using standardized criteria. A healthy referent subsample (n = 1,656, 803 men) free of hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes, obesity, and smoking was identified, and participants were stratified by gender and age (<45, 45 to 54, 55 to 64, 65 to 74, and ≥75 years). The prevalence and burden of AAC increased monotonically and supra-linearly with age in both genders but was greater in men than in women in each age group. For those <45 years old, <16% of the referent subsample participants had any quantifiable AAC. However, for those >65 years old, nearly 90% of the referent participants had >0 AAC. Across the entire study sample, AAC prevalence and burden similarly increased with greater age. Defining the 90th percentile of the referent group AAC as "high," the prevalence of high AAC was 19% for each gender in the overall study sample. The AAC also increased across categories of 10-year coronary heart disease risk, as calculated using the Framingham Risk Score, in the entire study sample. We found AAC to be widely prevalent, with the burden of AAC associated with 10-year coronary risk, in a white, free-living adult cohort.

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