Prevalence of calcified carotid artery atheromas on digital panoramic images among perimenopausal and postmenopausal African American women

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Health care disparities, often of an obscure nature, result in African American women (AAw) having enhanced risk of adverse cardiovascular events. Therefore, we sought to determine the prevalence of calcified carotid artery atheromas (CCAA), a validated risk indicator of these events, on their digital panoramic images.

Study Design.

Comprehensive electronic medical records and digital panoramic images of self-identified AAw aged ≥45 years treated between 2007 and 2014 were retrieved from a Veterans Affairs Dental Service. Images were reviewed for CCAA in the cervical bifurcation region, and medical records were reviewed for atherogenic risk factors: hypertension, diabetes, and dyslipidemia.


The study sample of 171 AAw (mean age 58.2 ± 8.0 years) evidenced a 24% CCAA positive prevalence rate. In comparison with the CCAA negative group, those with atheromas were significantly older (61.4 ± 10.1 vs. 57.2 ± 7.0), diabetic, and dyslipidemic. Also observed among the full study sample was significant concordant increase of CCAA prevalence with age. Among those who were CCAA positive, there was a significant increased prevalence of dyslipidemia with age.


Panoramic images of older AAw frequently revealed carotid atheromas, a risk indicator of generalized atherosclerosis and future adverse cardiovascular events.

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