What Are the Causes of Calcium Deposits on the Heart?

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What Are the Causes of Calcium Deposits on the Heart?
Calcium deposits may form in and around your heart. (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of oliver)

When doctors look at X-rays, they aren't surprised to see calcium deposits around or inside the heart. The location of those deposits may predict future cardiac events. There can be several causes of these calcium deposits in or near the heart.

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Types

Calcium deposits may develop on the inner walls of your coronary arteries, around any of your heart valves, and even in the space right outside the heart.

Identification

Calcium deposits begin when excess calcium in your blood is deposited over a layer of arteriosclerotic plaque. The deposit soon becomes hard but brittle.

Effect

Arteriosclerotic plaque starts building up when damaged vessels attract a combination of white blood cells and cholesterol. Risk factors that predispose to arteriosclerosis significantly increase your risk of calcium deposits.

Risk Factors

Older people have a higher incidence of calcium deposits, most likely because they are more prone to atherosclerosis. Other risk factors include diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, smoking, and alcohol abuse. People with a poor lipid panel (elevated triglycerides and LDL plus low levels of HDL) are also more prone to calcium deposits.

Tips

You can reduce your risk of calcium deposits by maintaining a healthy body weight, controlling chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure, exercising regularly, and eating a heart-healthy diet low in fat and cholesterol.

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