Medical Q&As

Calcification of the aorta - significant?

I was recently told that I had calcification of the aorta while attending an orthopaedic surgeon. This finding turned up on an X ray study of my back. The specialist said that I should not worry about this finding. Despite these reassurances I am wondering if I should be concerned. My brother had a valve replaced when he was 28yrs old. Also, my uncle had a bypass recently. I am 34yrs old. What do you think I should do?

Calcification of the aorta means that there are calcium deposits in the wall of the aorta, which result in the outline of that artery showing up during routine X ray examination. The calcium renders the aorta impenetrable to the X rays so that the aorta shows up white, whereas in the absence of the calcium the artery is usually not visible on a plain X ray. Most of the calcium in the body is contained within the bones and teeth whereas only 1% of the total amount is present in the blood. If there is an increase in calcium levels in the blood it can sometimes be deposited in the lining of the blood vessels. Calcification of the aorta is not an uncommon finding however, on the basis of your age I would suggest that you have the matter assessed a little bit further. It would be reasonable to have your blood calcium level measured as well as your cholesterol. This can be arranged through your GP. Your GP can also measure your blood pressure on that visit. Your brotherís history of valvular heart disease is not of any significance in relation to the calcification of your aorta.