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Physical Activity May Up Coronary Artery Calcium Progression

Physical activity has numerous health benefits but may paradoxically increase CAC scores, development, and progression

TUESDAY, Sept. 21, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Physical activity may be associated with increased development and progression of coronary artery calcium (CAC) scores, according to a study published online Sept. 20 in Heart.

Ki-Chul Sung, M.D., Ph.D., from the Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine in Seoul, South Korea, and colleagues conducted a prospective cohort study of men and women free of overt cardiovascular disease who underwent comprehensive health screening examinations to evaluate the association between physical activity and development and progression of CAC scores. Data were analyzed for 25,485 participants with at least two CAC score measurements.

The researchers found that 46.8, 38.0, and 15.2 percent of participants were inactive, moderately active, and health-enhancing physically active (HEPA), respectively. In participants who were inactive, moderately active, and HEPA, the estimated adjusted average baseline CAC scores were 9.45, 10.20, and 12.04, respectively. The estimated five-year increases in CAC scores were 3.20 and 8.16 in moderately active and HEPA participants, respectively, compared with participants who were inactive. In participants with a CAC score of 0 at baseline and those with prevalent CAC, higher physical activity was associated with faster progression of CAC scores.

“Sung and colleagues have produced a timely manuscript that highlights the complexity of interpreting coronary artery calcium scores in patients who have implemented recommendations on physical activity or commenced on statin therapy,” write the authors of an accompanying editorial. “While proponents would argue that it is an effective tool to screen for subclinical atherosclerosis in asymptomatic individuals, clinicians should be cautious regarding the overuse of this test in otherwise healthy individuals.”

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