Mammograms can help predict stroke risk

April 17, 2008

Mammography may be a tool that not only identifies breast cancer but also predicts stroke risk based on the presence of benign arterial calcifications, according to research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference in New Orleans.

Mammography may be a tool that not only identifies breast cancer but also predicts stroke risk based on the presence of benign arterial calcifications, according to research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference in New Orleans.

Amy Loden, of the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center in Columbia, MO., and colleagues reviewed the mammograms of 793 women, aged 40 to 90, who at baseline were free of coronary artery disease, diabetes, and peripheral vascular disease.

The researchers found that 86 (10.8%) of the subjects had benign arterial calcifications and that the prevalence of the condition significantly increased with age. During follow-up, the investigators found that the condition was present in 115 (56%) of the 204 women who developed strokes.

“We found that the age-related increase of benign arterial calcifications identified on screening mammography was significantly higher in the group with cerebral infarction,” the authors conclude. “The odds ratio of having cerebral infarction is significantly higher for each age group when benign arterial calcifications are present, indicating screening mammography may identify women at risk for having a cerebral infarction. Further studies are needed to explore the association between cerebral infarction and the presence of mammographic vascular calcifications.”

Dale P, Loden A, Mackie G, et al. Vascular Calcifications Identified on Screening Mammography are Associated with Increased Risk of Stroke. Stroke. 2008;39:628 (abstract P237).