Abdominal aortic calcification is when plaque gathers in the innermost membrane of the abdominal aorta and calcifies or hardens, states Northwestern Health Sciences University. The section of the artery that hardens is usually located on the lower vertebrae between L2 and L4.
Abdominal aortic calcification is a sign of atherosclerosis or the hardening of fat along the inner walls, as opposed to the hardening of the artery walls in arteriosclerosis, explains Northwestern Health Sciences University. Once the plaque in the abdominal aorta starts to harden, there is a good chance that it is hardening in other arteries such as the carotid. This hardening forces the channel in the blood vessels to narrow, which in turn weakens the walls of the arteries and causes peripheral arterial disease and cerebrovascular disease, points out the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Lifestyle habits have a large influence on abdominal aortic calcification, notes the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Men who smoke, drink and have high cholesterol are more likely to develop abdominal aortic calcification and atherosclerosis. Some other risk factors include obesity, poor exercise habits, stress and hypertension. Diabetes and age also play a role in abdominal aortic calcification. Women who suffer from diabetes mellitus and hypertension are also more likely to have hardening in the aorta and develop atherosclerosis.