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Embargoed for Release: March 26, 2008, 5:00 PM EDT

NHLBI Communications Office
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Embargoed for Release: March 26, 2008, 5:00 PM EDT

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NHLBI Media Availability:Coronary Calcium Measurement Predicts Heart Events in Multiple Ethnic Groups

Greater amounts of calcium deposits in a person's arteries, as measured by a CT scan, increase the likelihood of a future coronary event such as a heart attack, angina, or death from coronary heart disease, according to a study funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. This study is the first to confirm this finding in multiple ethnic groups. The predictive value of coronary calcium measurements was similar among the 6,722 white, black, Hispanic and Chinese patients studied even in the ethnic groups where coronary calcification was less prevalent.

The findings, titled "Coronary Calcium as a Predictor of Coronary Events in Four Ethnic Groups," from NHLBI's Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) are published in the March 27, 2008, issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Coronary calcium scanning, measured by a CT scan of the heart, looks for specks of calcium called calcifications in the walls of the coronary arteries. Calcifications indicate disease in the arteries that can lead to heart disease.

CT scanning can detect calcifications in a relatively non-invasive manner, although it does expose the person to some radiation.  This study did not address whether routine screening for coronary calcium would be beneficial.

Diane Bild, M.D.,M.P.H., deputy director of NHLBI's Division of Prevention and Population Sciences, is available for comment. To schedule interviews, contact the NHLBI Communications Office at 301-496-4236 or at nhlbi_news@nhlbi.nih.gov.

Part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) plans, conducts, and supports research related to the causes, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of heart, blood vessel, lung, and blood diseases; and sleep disorders. The Institute also administers national health education campaigns on women and heart disease, healthy weight for children, and other topics. NHLBI press releases and other materials are available online at www.nhlbi.nih.gov.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary Federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.



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301-496-4236
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