Long-term atherosclerotic vascular disease risk and prognosis in elderly women with abdominal aortic calcification on lateral spine images captured during bone density testing: a prospective study

Document Type

Journal Article


John Wiley and Sons Inc.


School of Medical and Health Sciences


Original article published as : Lewis, J. R., Schousboe, J. T., Lim, W. H., Wong, G., Wilson, K. E., Zhu, K., ... & Prince, R. L. (2018). Long‐Term Atherosclerotic Vascular Disease Risk and Prognosis in Elderly Women With Abdominal Aortic Calcification on Lateral Spine Images Captured During Bone Density Testing: A Prospective Study. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, 33 (6), 1001-1010. Original article can be found here


Lateral spine images are captured using bone densitometers for vertebral fracture assessment (VFA) in older women. Abdominal aortic calcification (AAC) is commonly seen on these images; however, the long‐term prognosis in women with AAC remains uncertain. In a prospective study of 1052 community‐dwelling ambulant white women over 70 years old abdominal aortic calcification 24 scale (AAC24) scores were calculated from digital lateral spine images captured during bone density testing in 1998 or 1999. Cardiovascular risk factors were assessed in 1998, whereas 14.5‐year atherosclerotic vascular disease (ASVD)‐related hospitalizations and deaths (events) were available through linked health records. Using established cut points for AAC 471 women (45%) had low AAC (AAC24 score 0 or 1), 387 (37%) moderate AAC (AAC24 score 2–5), and 197 (19%) had high AAC (AAC24 score ≥6). Over 14.5 years, 420 women experienced an ASVD event. Increasing severity of AAC was associated with increased absolute risk of ASVD events (37%, 39%, and 49%, respectively, p = 0.008 for trend), ASVD deaths (15%, 21%, and 27%, respectively, p < 0.001 for trend), and all‐cause mortality (30%, 38%, and 44%, respectively, p < 0.001 for trend). After adjusting for Framingham risk scores, women with high AAC had increased relative hazard for ASVD events, HR 1.37 (95% CI, 1.07 to 1.77; p = 0.013) compared to women with low AAC. Similarly, women with moderate AAC and high AAC had increased relative hazards for ASVD deaths HR 1.41 (95% CI, 1.03 to 1.94; p = 0.034) and HR 1.80 (95% CI, 1.26 to 2.57; p = 0.001), or any deaths HR 1.30 (95% CI, 1.03 to 1.64; p = 0.026) and HR 1.53 (95% CI, 1.17 to 2.00; p = 0.002), compared to women with low AAC. In conclusion, more advanced AAC on images captured for VFA is associated with long‐term ASVD hospitalizations and deaths before and after adjusting for Framingham risk scores. AAC assessment could be considered in addition to VFA to identify individuals who may benefit for more aggressive cardiovascular primary prevention strategies. © 2018 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research