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CT emphysema predicts thoracic aortic calcification in smokers with and without COPD.
Pubmed ID
21166628 (View this publication on the PubMed website)
COPD. 2010 Dec; Volume 7 (Issue 6): Pages 404-10
Dransfield MT, Huang F, Nath H, Singh SP, Bailey WC, Washko GR
  • Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama.

COPD patients are at increased risk for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality independent of smoking habits. Recent studies suggest CT emphysema is an independent predictor of cardiovascular risk as evidenced by its association with arterial stiffness and impaired endothelial function. We examined the relationship between demographics, lung function, CT emphysema and airway wall thickness and thoracic aortic calcification, another marker of cardiovascular risk, in the National Lung Screening Trial. We hypothesized that CT emphysema would be independently associated with thoracic aortic calcification. Two hundred forty current and former smokers were enrolled. After CT examination, we recorded subjects' demographics and they performed spirometry. Subjects were classified into COPD and non-COPD subgroups. CT emphysema was quantified as a percentage of lung volume and measurements of the right upper lobe airway were performed using standard methods and expressed as wall area (%). Total calcification scores for the thoracic aorta were computed using TeraRecon image analysis. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed to determine the associations between calcium score and subject characteristics. Subjects with COPD were older, more often male, heavier smokers and had more CT emphysema and greater aortic calcification than those without COPD. Calcium score was associated with age, pack-years, CT emphysema, wall area%, and lung function on univariate testing but only with age and CT emphysema on multivariate analysis. We conclude that CT emphysema is independently associated with thoracic calcification and thus may be used to assess cardiovascular risk in smokers with and without COPD.

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