Mammographically detectable breast arterial calcification and atherosclerosis
Breast arterial calcification (BAC), observed as an incidental finding on screening mammograms, represents degenerative calcific changes occurring in the mammary arteries, with increasing age. The aim of this review is to discuss relevant literature examining relation between BAC and atherosclerosis. After a thorough literature search, in OVID and PubMed, 199 studies were identified, of which 25 were relevant to our review. Data were abstracted from each study and statistical analysis was done, including calculation of odds ratios and construction of forest plots. A total of 35,542 patients were enrolled across 25 studies looking at an association between BAC and coronary artery disease, cardiovascular disease, stroke, cerebral artery disease, carotid and peripheral artery diseases, and coronary artery calcification. A majority of the studies showed a statistically significant relation between BAC and presence of coronary artery disease cardiovascular disease and associated mortality. Sensitivity of BAC in predicting cardiovascular events was low, but specificity was high. BAC was predictive of incident and prevalent stroke but not mortality of stroke. Similarly, BAC was predictive of cerebral, carotid, and peripheral artery diseases. The role of BAC as a surrogate marker of coronary and systemic atherosclerosis is currently uncertain. Its role may be further elucidated by more large-scale prospective studies and clinical experience.
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