Mammograms may predict heart disease, stroke risk in postmenopausal women, study finds

Routine mammograms typically used in breast cancer screenings may be able to predict postmenopasual women's risk for heart disease and strokes, a study published March 15 in Circulation found.

Researchers analyzed records of 5,059 postmenopausal women who had digital mammogram screening at nine centers in Northern California from October 2012 to February 2015. The patients were followed for 6½years after their screenings to see if they experienced a heart attack, stroke or any other kind of cardiovascular disease.

Three key findings: 

  • Women who had shown evidence of breast arterial calcification in their mammograms were 51 percent more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke than those who showed no calcification. 

  • Women who showed evidence of calcification were 23 percent more likely to develop any type of cardiovascular disease.

  • Calcification was more common among women identifying as white or Hispanic and less common among those identifying as Black or Asian.

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