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ACC: Coronary Artery Calcium Progression May Accelerate After Menopause

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Authors say sharp increase in cardiovascular risk warrants more regular screening

By Lori Solomon HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, April 2 (HealthDay News) — Postmenopausal changes may accelerate coronary artery calcium (CAC) progression in women, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology, held from April 6 to 8 in Atlanta.

Ella Ishaaya, M.D., from Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, California, and colleagues compared CAC progression between postmenopausal women and age-matched men with equivalent statin therapy and coronary artery disease risk factors to determine if postmenopausal changes contribute to faster CAC progression. The analysis included 579 postmenopausal women on statin therapy who underwent baseline and follow-up CAC scans at least one year apart, as well as male patients, matched (1:1) for age, race, statin use, hypertension, and diabetes mellitus.

The researchers found that for a baseline CAC level of 1 to 99, women had significantly higher CAC progression versus men (8 versus 4 points). Annualized median CAC change for a baseline CAC of 100 to 399 was 31 versus 16 points for women versus men. When CAC was >400, there was no significant difference observed in annualized progression by gender.

“This is a unique study cohort of only postmenopausal statin users that signals that postmenopausal women may have risk of heart disease that is on par with males,” Ishaaya said in a statement. “Women are underscreened and undertreated, especially postmenopausal women, who have a barrage of new risk factors that many are not aware of. This study raises awareness of what those risk factors are and opens the door to indicating the importance of increased screening for coronary artery calcium.”

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