Once a year for 10 years, 6,814 people received Coronary Artery Calcium Score tests using X rays to measure the amount of plaques in their arteries, to predict their chances for suffering a heart attack (Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Cardiovascular Imaging, December 2015). The participants were ages 45-84 and free of heart disease at the beginning of the study. The results showed that those with persistent coronary calcium scores of zero were at very low risk for heart disease.
The authors also reported that high coronary calcium scores were associated with increased risk of cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and chronic kidney disease (Journal of the American College of Cardiology: Cardiovascular Imaging, March 9, 2016). By the end of the 10 year study, 1,238 of the 6,814 people had been diagnosed with prostate, lung, gastrointestinal/colon, breast, skin, blood or uterine/ovarian cancers, kidney disease, pneumonia, a blood clot, lung disease, dementia or a hip fracture. In those with a calcium score of zero, the incidence of these diseases was very low. At a calcium score of 400, a person had five time the chances of suffering a heart attack, cancers or kidney or lung damage.
The authors conclude that, "Coronary artery calcium score is a direct measurement of the cumulative effect of all risk factors, rather than a consideration of a single risk factor, like obesity, smoking or high blood pressure." A chronic overactive immunity, called inflammation, causes plaques to form in arteries to cause heart attacks and strokes. It also damages the genetic material in cells, leading to cancers, and damages the kidneys and lungs.