(HealthDay News) — Coronary artery calcium (CAC) is associated with coronary heart disease (CHD) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) among younger adults, according to a study published online in JAMA Cardiology.

John Jeffrey Carr, MD, from Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn, and colleagues used data from a prospective study involving 5115 black and white participants aged 18 to 30 years who were under surveillance for 30 years. CAC was measured at 15, 20, and 25 years after recruitment. Incident events were assessed during a mean follow-up of 12.5 years from the year 15 computed tomographic scan (3043 participants) through 2014.

The researchers found that 10.2% of participants had CAC at year 15 of the study. During follow-up, there were 57 incident CHD events and 108 incident CVD events. Participants with any CAC experienced an increase in CHD and CVD events (hazard ratios, 5.0 and 3.0, respectively), in adjusted analysis. The hazard ratios for CHD were 2.6, 5.8, and 9.8, respectively, within CAC score strata of 1 to 19, 20 to 99, and ≥100. The incidence of deaths was 22.4 per 100 participants with a CAC score of 100 or more (hazard ratio, 3.7); 10 of the 13 deaths in participants with a CAC score of ≥100 were adjudicated as CHD events.

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“Selective use of screening for CAC might be considered in individuals with risk factors in early adulthood to inform discussions about primary prevention,” the authors write.

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  1. Carr JJ, Jacobs DR, Terry JG. Association of Coronary Artery Calcium in Adults Aged 32 to 46 Years With Incident Coronary Heart Disease and Death. JAMA Cardiol. 8 February 2017. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2016.5493