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Coronary calcium deposits may predict heart attack risk

Category: Heart Health and Cholesterol

Some individuals may be at risk for heart attacks, even after receiving normal cholesterol test results. Statin medications may help these patients, but identifying them can be difficult.

Now new research suggests that checking for the presence of calcium deposits in the arteries could be a simple and accurate way to assess a person's heart attack risk when they have normal cholesterol levels.

After following the medical records of more than 2,000 people over the course of six years, researchers Johns Hopkins University found that 95 percent of the individuals who experienced heart attacks had elevated levels of coronary calcium and their risk could have been diagnosed years before the cardiovascular event.

"A calcium test directly looks for the disease we propose to treat with statins. Without measurable amounts of calcium, which indicates atherosclerosis, you are likely to be at very low risk in the short-term," said Michael Blaha, the lead researcher on the study.

The findings could be a major boost to the identification of individuals at risk for heart attacks despite normal cholesterol test results.

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