Health Advice



Keeping Abreast of Heart Disease Risk

Scott LaFee on

Routine mammograms often reveal calcifications in the breast -- bright white lines snaking through the tissue. While not a sign of cancer, new research suggests they may provide clues to risk of cardiovascular disease.

The white lines are indicators of calcium buildup in the breast's arterial wall, which is different from coronary artery calcification, already known as a cardiovascular risk. In a study of more than 5,000 postmenopausal women, those with breast arterial calcification were 51% more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke compared with women who didn't have the condition.

Researchers don't have an explanation yet, and women without this calcification still face cardiovascular risks, but breast arterial calcification may prove to be another indicator of poor cardiovascular health and add another benefit to routine mammograms.

Body of Knowledge

The average person uses 57 sheets of toilet paper daily (8.6 per trip to the bathroom) or nearly 21,000 sheets (100 rolls) per year.

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In a survey of primary health care in 11 wealthy countries, the United States fared poorly in access, coordination of care and continuing relationships with providers.

The Commonwealth Fund found that Americans were least likely to have a primary care physician, a place of care or a long-standing relationship with a health care provider.

U.S. primary care physicians were most likely to ask patients about their social services needs, such as housing, food security and transportation. That's a good thing -- but survey authors said it probably just reflected the greater hardships of a weaker safety net.

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