Vascular Calcification: An Age-Old Problem of Old Age
Vascular calcification, once considered a passive consequence of aging, is now recognized to be a highly regulated process akin to bone formation. Vascular calcification is prevalent across ethnicities and age groups and observational studies show an interaction with aging in asymptomatic adults and in individuals with established coronary artery disease.1, 2 Recent findings from the HORUS study have shown that the link between aging and vascular calcification is an age-old association. In this study, 137 mummies up to 4.000 years old were examined with CT scans. Vascular calcification was present in 47/137 or 34% of the mummies and the age at the time of death correlated positively with the presence of vascular calcification as well as the number of vascular beds with calcified vessels.3 In the modern era, the incidence of vascular calcification has been shown to increase with advancing age and has been reported to be <5% annually for individuals <50 years of age to >12% for individuals >80 years of age.2 When present, vascular calcification portends a worse clinical outcome; a meta-analysis of 218,000 patients found a 3.94-fold higher risk for cardiovascular mortality and a 3.41-fold higher risk for any cardiovascular event.4 Thus, understanding how aging influences the pathobiology of vascular calcification may have far-reaching implications for associated cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.
- Received May 15, 2013.
- Accepted May 17, 2013.