Calcification is a common complication in cardiovascular disease and may affect both arteries and heart valves. Matrix γ-carboxyglutamic acid (Gla) protein (MGP) is a potent inhibitor of vascular calcification, the activity of which is regulated by vitamin K. In animal models, vitamin K antagonists (oral anticoagulants [OACs]) were shown to induce arterial calcification. To investigate whether long-term OAC treatment may induce calcification in humans also, we have measured the grade of aortic valve calcification in patients with and without preoperative OAC treatment. OAC-treated subjects were matched with nontreated ones for age, sex, and disease. Calcifications in patients receiving preoperative OAC treatment were significantly (2-fold) larger than in nontreated patients. These observations suggest that OACs, which are widely used for antithrombotic therapy, may induce cardiovascular calcifications as an adverse side effect.

  • Submitted April 9, 2004.
  • Accepted July 6, 2004.
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