Harvard Heart Letter

Ask the doctor: Is it dangerous to have calcium in the aorta?

Ask the doctor

Is it dangerous to have calcium in the aorta?

Q. A test showed that I have calcium in my aorta. My doctor said it isn't serious, and that, as a 79-year-old, I will have to "live with it." Can you tell me more about this condition?

A. Calcification in the aorta is extremely common at your age. It is often first seen during a routine x-ray. No treatment is needed to remove the calcium, as it doesn't pose a problem.

That said, calcification is an indicator that your aorta isn't as healthy as it could be. It is typically a sign that patches of cholesterol-laden plaque are accumulating in your aorta. Patches there usually mean that plaque is in other arteries, too, like the coronary arteries that supply the heart muscle.

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