Fifty years of technological advancement revolutionized the treatment of heart attacks and increased survival rates, but heart disease remains the nation’s leading cause of death for women. While we have made dramatic progress, efforts to prevent heart disease have been disappointing, especially for women. Yet a standard feature of women’s health—mammography—offers a promising gateway for cardiovascular screening through breast arterial calcification, or BAC.
BAC consists of visible deposits of calcium in breast arteries, which can be seen on mammograms and should prompt doctors to screen for heart disease. Since the X-ray primarily screens for breast cancer, this finding is rarely reported and leaves most patients unaware of the amount of BAC on their exams.