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EBCT May Help To Detect Otherwise Hidden Heart Disease In Older Adults, Find University Of Pittsburgh Researchers

Electron beam computed tomography (EBCT) could help identify older adults with heart disease who otherwise appear healthy when evaluated using standard non-invasive ways, according to a report by University of Pittsburgh researcher Anne Newman, M.D., M.P.H., Division of Geriatric Medicine. Dr. Newman is presenting her results at the 39th annual Conference on Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention, March 25, in Orlando, Fla.

"Healthy older adults, even those with no cardiovascular disease as measured by carotid ultrasound or ankle-arm index (AAI), have a wide range of coronary calcifications as measured by EBCT," said Dr. Newman, who is an associate professor of medicine at the university's School of Medicine and an assistant professor of epidemiology at the university's Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH). "Twenty-five percent of all the people we saw had high coronary calcification scores; another 25 percent had low scores. Nevertheless, there were no dramatic differences between them in terms of their other peripheral measures-carotid ultrasound or AAI. The only way heart disease was detectable in this population was by EBCT."

EBCT is an imaging procedure that measures coronary and aortic calcification, known markers of increased risk for coronary events. Carotid ultrasound, which measures artery wall thickness and arterial blood flow, has been shown to help identify individuals who have plaque build-up in the arteries. An AAI is the systolic blood pressure in the ankle divided by the systolic blood pressure in the arm. When there is an obstruction of blood flow in the leg, the AAI will be less than 1.0. An AAI of less than 0.9 is correlated with disease in other major blood vessels.

The 132 participants from the Cardiovascular Health Study evaluated for this report are now 70-93 years of age, with a mean of 78.2 years. The Cardiovascular Health Study began in 1989 with 5,200 older adults nat
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Contact: Franki Williams
williamsf@msx.upmc.edu
412-624-2607
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
25-Mar-1999


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