• abdominal aortic calcification;
  • myocardial infarction;
  • stroke;
  • vertebral fracture assessment;
  • bone densitometry


Among a cohort of elderly women, abdominal aortic calcification scored on baseline lateral spine densitometric images intended for vertebral fracture assessment was associated with subsequent myocardial infarction or stroke over a median 4-yr period, independent of clinical cardiovascular disease risk factors.

Introduction: Cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk among older women is not adequately captured by traditional CVD risk factors. Lateral spine images obtained on bone densitometers for vertebral fracture assessment (VFA) can detect abdominal aortic calcification (AAC), an important marker of subclinical CVD. Our objective was to estimate the association between AAC scored on VFA images and subsequent myocardial infarction (MI) or stroke in elderly women.

Materials and Methods: Among participants in a randomized controlled trial (women; age >75 yr) of clodronate versus placebo, those who sustained an MI or stroke during the median 4-yr follow-up study period were selected as cases (n = 408), and 408 controls were randomly selected from the remainder of the parent study population. Baseline VFA images were scored for AAC with a previously validated 24-point scale and a newer, simpler 8-point scale.

Results: The OR of incident MI or stroke for those in the middle and top tertiles, respectively, compared with the bottom tertile of AAC score were 1.14 (95% CI, 0.79–1.66) and 1.74 (95% CI, 1.19–2.56) for the 24-point scale and 1.42 (95% CI, 0.98–2.05) and 1.77 (95% CI, 1.22–2.55) for the 8-point scale, adjusted for age, high-density lipoprotein and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, smoking, renal function, health status, and baseline diagnoses of diabetes mellitus, hypertension, angina, and prior stroke.

Conclusions: AAC scored on VFA images is independently associated with incident MI or stroke. Because bone densitometry is indicated for all women ≥65 yr of age, VFA imaging offers an opportunity to capture this CVD risk factor in postmenopausal women undergoing bone densitometry at very little additional cost.