Although computed tomography (CT) of the chest is generally used for diagnostic purposes, a study in Radiology suggests that incidental findings may identify persons at risk for cardiovascular disease.

Pushpa M. Jairam, MD, PhD, and team looked at data from more than 10,000 persons who had undergone diagnostic chest CT for various noncardiovascular reasons. During a mean follow-up of 3.7 years, more than 1,100 cardiovascular events occurred.

Based on the scans, the investigators created an image-based risk prediction model. In addition to age, gender, and CT indication, the model also included left anterior descending coronary artery calcifications, mitral valve calcifications, descending aorta calcifications, and cardiac diameter—all measures of subclinical atherosclerosis that can be visualized and scored by a radiologist, allowing for placement of individuals into clinically relevant risk categories.

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