Mammograms have, so far, had the single role of identifying potentially cancerous tumors in the breast. However, could they also help doctors identify women at risk of heart disease and heart failure
Islamabad (Pakistan Point News / Online - 06th December, 2019) Mammograms have, so far, had the single role of identifying potentially cancerous tumors in the breast. However, could they also help doctors identify women at risk of heart disease and heart failure?Some researchers believe that mammograms could also help doctors identify women with a high risk of heart failure.Mammograms work by using low energy X-rays to "scan" breast tissue for irregularities and abnormalities that may be signs of cancer.
They are the first port of call when it comes to diagnosing breast cancer in its early stages.In 2016, the United States Preventive Services Task Force recommended that women aged 50-74 years the age range in which women's risk of breast cancer increases should undergo breast cancer screening once every 2 years.Mammograms do not only detect potential cancerous tumors, though. As it turns out, they also show the formation of breast arterial calcifications, which are calcium buildups inside the arteries in the breast.
Killing two birds with one stone?Breast arterial calcification is often associated with coronary artery calcium a dangerous buildup of calcium sediment in the arteries that transport oxygenated blood to the heart particularly in women.Coronary artery calcium is, in itself, a strong predictor of cardiovascular disease, and doctors will use computed tomography (CT) scans to screen for these buildups in people whom they believe to be at risk.
Dr. Bui and colleagues argue that breast arterial calcification can help identify women who may be at risk of cardiovascular problems, including heart attack, stroke, and heart failure, in which the heart is unable to pump blood effectively.In particular, the investigators argue that mammograms which women over a certain age will often undertake as a regular screening procedure anyway could help doctors detect not just cancer but also the risk of heart disease. They explain that these tests could do this by highlighting the presence of calcium buildups in breast arteries.Looking at the evidenceIn their study, the investigators analyzed data from the medical records of 278 female participants with a mean age of about 61 years. These records covered the period of 2006-2016.All of these participants had undergone both a mammogram and a coronary CT scan within the same year.