(RoyalPatriot.com )- A study out of Sweden found that out of over 25,000 people ages fifty to sixty-four, approximately 42 percent had signs of atherosclerosis – a condition where plaques build up in the arteries often leading to heart attack or stroke.
The findings, published online in the journal Circulation, studied nearly 25,200 Swedish adults, none with a history of heart attack or procedures to treat clogged arteries. The subjects underwent two imaging tests – coronary artery calcium screening and CT angiography – to detect calcium deposits in arteries.
The high rate of “silent” atherosclerosis was unsurprising as previous smaller studies had also indicated the same. But this new study, based on a random sample of Sweden’s general population, confirms the condition is widespread among people of middle age.
According to lead researcher Goran Bergstrom, there are ways to prevent atherosclerosis from leading to heart attack and stroke – namely controlling high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol and high blood sugar, as well as quitting smoking, getting regular exercise and a maintaining a healthy diet.
The study reveals that a coronary artery calcium screening, the standard test used by doctors to determine whether or not to prescribe cholesterol-lowering medications, may not be sufficient in determining the presence of plaque in arteries. In the study, 5.5 percent of the participants whose calcium screening scores were zero were shown to have some degree of atherosclerosis in their subsequent CT angiography test.
According to Bergstrom, these findings suggest that CT angiography could serve a larger role in prevention and risk management as it will pick up cases the calcium screening alone might miss.
Donald Lloyd-Jones, president of the American Heart Association disagrees. He believes the Swedish study confirms the effectiveness of calcium scoring. The current treatment guidelines take into account other factors. If a calcium score of zero is found in people who smoke or have diabetes or a family history of premature heart disease, doctors factor that in when prescribing cholesterol medications.
Lloyd-Jones position is backed up by the Swedish study which also found that those who had atherosclerosis despite a calcium score of zero tended to have other risk factors like smoking an obesity.