Calcium in the arteries has long been known to be a potential cause of heart attacks, but until now there was no evidence to suggest that it could also be a potential risk factor for strokes.
However, researchers in the Netherlands have discovered that calcium in the coronary arteries can indeed lead to a higher risk of strokes.
A team led by Jacqueline Witteman and Rozemarijn Vliegenthart, professors of epidemiology at the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, looked at 2,013 people, including 50 participants who had survived a stroke. The subjects were all given an X-Ray image of their coronary arteries to detect the level of calcium deposits and then given a score depending on the seriousness of the calcification discovered.
The researchers discovered that patients with scores ranging from 101 to 500 were twice as likely to have suffered a stroke as those in the zero to 100 category. Those with scores in excess of 500 were three times as likely to be stroke victims, the researcher write in the February issue of Stroke, the Journal of the American Heart Association.
Calcification in the coronary arteries is a measure of atherosclerosis, a hardening of the arteries that can be the result of poor lifestyle habits, such as smoking or eating fatty foods that lead to arterial clogging, genetics, and age, which is the biggest risk factor of all for stroke.