Lung scans provide key to preventing heart disease deaths

Screenings for heavy smokers can highlight tell-tale sings of the killer illness

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Reporter: N/A. Business. General view of a ash tray on the top of a bin. The ashtray has a pair of lungs printed on it. Tuesday, July 21st, 2020. Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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An algorithm can accurately predict the risk of death from heart disease using information from lung cancer scans, research published on Thursday showed.

The screenings provide valuable information on the build-up of calcium in the heart and aorta which are linked to heart disease, the world’s leading cause of death.

The research was based on data from 4,451 people over two years. The method could help identify heavy smokers at risk of a heart disease-related death, the study published in Radiology: Cardiothoracic Imaging revealed.

“Lung screening studies show that heavy smokers die from cardiovascular disease as much as from lung cancer,” said lead author Bob de Vos, of the Amsterdam University Medical Centre.

“But we also see that some people with very high calcium scores survive, while others with low scores do suffer from major cardiac events. The work offers a direction for future research to precisely pinpoint which calcifications are dangerous.”