Context: Abdominal aortic calcification (AAC) is a common finding in patients with atherosclerosis. Objective: The aim of this study was to demonstrate the incremental value of AAC in predicting long term cardiovascular (CV) outcome by conducting a meta-analysis of observational studies. Data sources: MEDLINE and Cochrane databases. Study selection Longitudinal studies with at least 2 years of follow-up, reporting the influence of AAC on CV outcome of general population patients. Data extraction: Four separate end points - coronary events, cerebrovascular events, all CV events and CV related death - were tested for their relationship with AAC at baseline, using weighted random effects meta-analysis. Heterogeneity was calculated using Q and I 2statistic tests. Publication bias was assessed by funnel plot symmetry and trim and fill methods. The importance of calcium quantification was also explored (sensitivity analysis). Results: 10 studies were included. An increased relative risk (RR) was found for all end points: for coronary events (five studies, n=11250) 1.81 (95% CI 1.54 to 2.14); for cerebrovascular events (four studies, n=9736) 1.37 (1.22 to 3.54); for all CV events (four studies, n=4960) 1.64 (1.24 to 2.17); and for CV death (three studies, n=4986) 1.72 (1.03 to 2.86). Analysis of studies presenting results in categories (no/minimal, moderate and severe calcification) revealed a stepwise increase in the RR for all end points. Significant heterogeneity was found in the included studies. Sources of heterogeneity were identified in the publication date, duration of follow-up, and mean age and gender differences in the included patient cohorts. Conclusion: Existing data suggest that AAC is a strong predictor of CV related events or death in the general population. The predictive impact is greater in more calcified aortas. The generalisability of the meta-analysis is limited by heterogeneity in the coronary events, all CV events and CV death end points.

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Journal Heart
Gonçalves, F.B, Voûte, M.T, Hoeks, S.E, Chonchol, M, Boersma, H, Stolker, R.J, & Verhagen, H.J.M. (2012). Calcification of the abdominal aorta as an independent predictor of cardiovascular events: A meta-analysis. Heart, 98(13), 988–994. doi:10.1136/heartjnl-2011-301464