BACKGROUND Calcium is often deposited in the aorta, but the associations and clinical implications of calcification of the aorta have not yet been elucidated. METHODS In a prospective cohort of 455 hypertensive patients with at least 1 additional risk factor for atherosclerosis that underwent dual slice spiral computed tomography of the chest for assessment of arterial calcification (mean age 65.7+/-5.8, range 52-80 years, 48% female), we assessed for calcifications of the ascending and descending aorta and their association with the risk of subsequent ischemic cerebrovascular events during 3-year follow-up. RESULTS Calcification of the ascending or descending aorta was present in 342 (75%) patients (60% calcification of the ascending aorta and 56% of the descending aorta). The main associations of calcification of the thoracic aorta were increasing age and the presence of coronary calcification, mitral annulus calcification, and aortic valve calcification. In a logistic regression model the main predictors of ischemic cerebrovascular events (n=27) during follow-up were the presence of severe calcification (thickness of > or = 5 mm) of the descending aorta (OR 4.9, 95%CI 1.8 to 13.5) and cigarette smoking (OR 2.8, 95%CI 1.1 to 6.7). CONCLUSIONS Calcification of the thoracic aorta is highly prevalent among women and men with hypertension, is age-related, and correlates with calcification of the coronary arteries and heart valves. Only severe calcification of the descending aorta is associated with subsequent ischemic cerebrovascular events, suggesting that calcification of the thoracic aorta is a marker of the burden of vascular disease.
D. Tanné, A. Tenenbaum, J. Shemesh
International journal of cardiology