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New Method for Detection of Breast Arterial Calcifications via Mammograms Indicates Likelihood of Heart Disease

By MedImaging International staff writers
Posted on 16 Feb 2022
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Image: Quantifying BACs to assess heart disease risk (Photo courtesy of Volpara Health)
Image: Quantifying BACs to assess heart disease risk (Photo courtesy of Volpara Health)

A new method for the detection and quantification of breast arterial calcifications (BACs) has important implications for heart disease risk.

Volpara Health (Wellington, New Zealand) has secured a US patent focused on detection of (BACs) via mammograms. BACs are medial calcifications of the mammary arteries (inappropriate and pathological depositions of mineral in the form of calcium phosphate salts). Generally considered as a benign and incidental finding from an oncological perspective, BACs have been demonstrated to be associated with chronic kidney disease, bone mineral density reduction, diabetes mellitus, metabolic syndrome, hypertension, coronary artery disease, and strokes.

Most clinical research correlating BACs with the risk of coronary artery disease has relied on the absence versus presence of BACs, or semi-quantitative BAC metrics with large uncertainty and standard deviation. Consequently, there have been inconsistent findings. That was exactly the same situation as with breast density measurement until researchers made the field much more quantitative and objective by using more automated algorithms. While a commercial software product that can detect and quantify BACs during routine mammographic screening, using this data then predict a patient's risk of heart disease will require further development.

This latest patent - which builds off Volpara Health's approach to quantitative and objective breast density scoring -is a significant advance. Using breast tissue composition and anthropomorphic measures, a tissue composition map that identifies BACs can be created from a mammogram. Subsequently, a score is generated that indicates the likelihood of heart disease resulting from these calcifications.

"This patent is an important advancement in patient care. Being able to quantify breast arterial calcifications has the potential to take what are often considered incidental, insignificant findings on a mammogram, and triage patients to cardiac care and interventions," said Volpara CEO Ralph Highnam.

Related Links:
Volpara Health 

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