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People who have calcified hard plaque deposits in their arteries are at a higher risk of suffering a heart attack, a new study has warned.
The notion that soft plaque is more likely to rupture and cause heart attacks than hard calcium deposits in coronary arteries may be wrong, said researchers from Intermountain Medical Centre Heart Institute in the US.
Atherosclerosis is caused when plaque builds up in the arteries, narrowing and hardening them.
"We previously thought the lipid-laden soft plaque was more likely to rupture and cause heart attacks, but based on our new research, it's more the calcified plaque that appears to be associated with adverse cardiovascular events" said Brent Muhlestein, of Intermountain Medical Centre Heart Institute.
In this study, through careful quantitative evaluation, the composition of coronary artery plaque identified in the subjects through CT coronary angiography was stratified proportionately into amounts of soft, calcified, and fibrous plaque and compared with future risk of unstable angina, heart attack or death.
Unexpectedly, proportionately higher quantities of calcified plaque best predicted major adverse coronary events, while soft plaque did not, researchers said.
The research reflects more long-term findings after patients were followed for an average of nearly seven years to see if their plaque composition had predicted whether they'd have a cardiac event.