Coronary artery calcium (CAC) is a marker of atherosclerosis. Whether epicardial calcium reflects more widespread atherosclerosis affecting coronary vascular function is unknown.
We evaluated 136 consecutive patients without known coronary disease (age 62 ±12 years, 68 % females) undergoing vasodilator stress 82Rb PET and CAC scoring based on clinical grounds. Patients with normal myocardial perfusion on standard semi-quantitative analysis were included. The Agatston CAC score, rest and stress myocardial blood flow (MBF), coronary flow reserve (CFR) and coronary vascular resistance (CVR) were quantified and analyzed on a per patient and per vascular territory basis.
Global and regional CAC scores showed modest but significant correlation with hyperemic MBF (r= −0.31 and r= −0.26, p≤0.0002, respectively), CFR (r= −0.28 and r= −0.2, p≤0.001, respectively), and CVR during peak hyperemia (r=0.32 and r= 0.26, p≤0.0002, respectively). There was a modest stepwise decline of mean CFR with increasing CAC score on per patient analysis (1.8 ±0.5 vs 1.7 ±0.5 vs 1.5±0.4, p=0.048 with total CAC= 0, 1-400 and >400 respectively) and per vessel analysis (1.8 ±0.6 vs 1.6 ±0.4 vs 1.5 ±0.5 vs 1.5 ±0.5, p=0.004 with vessel CAC score= 0, 1-100, 101-400 and >400 respectively). In multivariable modeling only body mass index (p=0.005), CAC score (p =0.04) and hypertension (p=0.05) remained predictive.
In patients without overt CAD, there is a modest but statistically significant inverse relationship between CAC content and coronary vasodilator function, which persists after adjusting for the effect of coronary risk factors.
coronary calcifications; coronary flow reserve; coronary atherosclerosis; positron emission tomography
The incremental value of CAC over traditional risk factors to predict coronary vasodilator dysfunction and inherent myocardial blood flow (MBF) impairment is only scarcely documented (MBF). The aim of this study was therefore to evaluate the relationship between CAC content, hyperemic MBF, and coronary flow reserve (CFR) in patients undergoing hybrid 15O-water PET/CT imaging.
We evaluated 173 (mean age 56 ± 10, 78 men) patients with a low to intermediate likelihood for coronary artery disease (CAD), without a documented history of CAD, undergoing vasodilator stress 15O-water PET/CT and CAC scoring. Obstructive coronary artery disease was excluded by means of invasive (n = 44) or CT-based coronary angiography (n = 129).
91 of 173 patients (52%) had a CAC score of zero. Of those with CAC, the CAC score was 0.1-99.9, 100-399.9, and ≥400 in 31%, 12%, and 5% of patients, respectively. Global CAC score showed significant inverse correlation with hyperemic MBF (r = −0.32, P < .001). With increasing CAC score, there was a decline in hyperemic MBF on a per-patient basis [3.70, 3.30, 2.68, and 2.53 mL · min−1 · g−1, with total CAC score of 0, 0.1-99.9, 100-399.9, and ≥400, respectively (P < .001)]. CFR showed a stepwise decline with increasing levels of CAC (3.70, 3.32, 2.94, and 2.93, P < .05). Multivariate analysis, including age, BMI, and CAD risk factors, revealed that only age, male gender, BMI, and hypercholesterolemia were associated with reduced stress perfusion. Furthermore, only diabetes and age were independently associated with CFR.
In patients without significant obstructive CAD, a greater CAC burden is associated with a decreased hyperemic MBF and CFR. However, this association disappeared after adjustment for traditional CAD risk factors. These results suggest that CAC does not add incremental value regarding hyperemic MBF and CFR over established CAD risk factors in patients without obstructive CAD.
Coronary artery calcium; hyperemic myocardial blood flow; coronary risk factors
Elevated coronary artery calcium (CAC) is a marker for increase risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). While the majority of CHD events occur among individuals with advanced CAC, CHD can also occur in individuals with little or no calcified plaque. In this study, we sought to evaluate the characteristics associated with incident CHD events in the setting of minimal (score ≤10) or absent CAC (score of zero).
Asymptomatic participants in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) (N=6,809), were followed for occurrence of all CHD events (including myocardial infarction(MI), angina, resuscitated cardiac arrest, or CHD death) and hard CHD events (MI or CHD death). Time to incident CHD was modeled using age-and gender-adjusted Cox regression.
The final study population consisted of 3,923 MESA asymptomatic participants (mean age: 58±9years,39% males) had with CAC scores of 0-10. Overall no detectable CAC was seen in 3415 individuals, whereas 508 had CAC scores of 1-10. During follow up (median 4.1 years) there were 16 incident hard events, and 28 all CHD events in individuals with absent or minimal CAC. In age, gender, race and CHD risk factors adjusted analysis, minimal CAC (1-10) was associated with an estimated 3-fold greater risk of a hard CHD event (HR: 3.23, 95% CI: 1.17-8.95), or of all CHD event (HR: 3.66, 95% CI 1.71-7.85) compared to those with CAC=0. Former smoking (HR=3.57; 1.08-11.77), current smoking (HR=4.93; 1.20-20.30), and diabetes (HR=3.09; 1.07-8.93) were significant risk factors for events in those with CAC=0.
Asymptomatic persons with absent or minimal CAC are at very low risk of future cardiovascular events. Individuals with minimal CAC (1-10) were significantly increased to three fold increased risk for incident CHD events relative to those with CAC scores of zero.
Computed Tomography; Prognosis; Coronary Artery Calcification; Atherosclerosis; Coronary Calcium Score; Cardiac Events
Pericardial fat has adverse effects on the surrounding vasculature. Previous studies suggest that pericardial fat may contribute to myocardial ischemia in symptomatic individuals. However, it is unknown if pericardial fat has similar effects in asymptomatic individuals.
We determined the association between pericardial fat and myocardial blood flow (MBF) in 214 adults with no prior history of cardiovascular disease from the Minnesota field center of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (43% female, 56% Caucasian, 44% Hispanic). Pericardial fat volume was measured by computed tomography. MBF was measured by MRI at rest and during adenosine-induced hyperemia. Myocardial perfusion reserve (PR) was calculated as the ratio of hyperemic to resting MBF.
Gender-stratified analyses revealed significant differences between men and women including less pericardial fat (71.9±31.3 vs. 105.2±57.5 cm3, p<0.0001) and higher resting MBF (1.12±0.23 vs. 0.93±0.19 ml/min/g, p<0.0001), hyperemic MBF (3.49±0.76 vs. 2.65±0.72 ml/min/g, p<0.0001), and PR (3.19±0.78 vs. 2.93±0.89, p = 0.03) in women. Correlations between pericardial fat and clinical and hemodynamic variables were stronger in women. In women only (p = 0.01 for gender interaction) higher pericardial fat was associated with higher resting MBF (p = 0.008). However, this association was attenuated after accounting for body mass index or rate-pressure product. There were no significant associations between pericardial fat and hyperemic MBF or PR after multivariate adjustment in either gender. In logistic regression analyses there was also no association between impaired coronary vasoreactivity, defined as having a PR <2.5, and pericardial fat in men (OR, 1.18; 95% CI, 0.82–1.70) or women (OR, 1.11; 95% CI, 0.68–1.82).
Our data fail to support an independent association between pericardial fat and myocardial perfusion in adults without symptomatic cardiovascular disease. Nevertheless, these findings highlight potentially important differences between asymptomatic and symptomatic individuals with respect to the underlying subclinical disease burden.
The presence and extent of coronary artery calcium (CAC) is an independent predictor of coronary heart disease (CHD) morbidity and mortality. Few studies have evaluated interactions or independent incremental risk for coronary and thoracic aortic calcification (TAC). The independent predictive value of TAC for CHD events is not well-established.
This study used risk factor and computed tomography scan data from 6,807 participants in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Using the same images for each participant, TAC and CAC were each computed using the Agatston method. The study subjects were free of incident CHD at entry into the study.
The mean age of the study population (n=6807) was 62±10 years (47% males). At baseline, the prevalence of TAC and CAC was 28 % (1,904/6,809) and 50% (3393/6809), respectively. Over 4.5±0.9 years, a total of 232 participants (3.41%) had CHD events, of which 132 (1.94%) had a hard event (myocardial infarction, resuscitated cardiac arrest, or CHD death). There was a significant interaction between gender and TAC for CHD events (p<0.05). Specifically, in women, the risk of all CHD event was nearly 3-fold greater among those with any TAC (hazard ratio: 3.04, 95% CI; 1.60–5.76). After further adjustment for increasing CAC score, this risk was attenuated but remained robust (HR: 2.15, 95% CI: 1.10–4.17). Conversely, there was no significant association between TAC and incident CHD in men. In women, the likelihood ratio chi square statistics indicate that the addition of TAC contributed significantly to predicting incident CHD event above that provided by traditional risk factors alone (chi square= 12.44, p=0.0004) as well as risk factors + CAC scores (chi square= 5.33, p=0.02) . On the other hand, addition of TAC only contributed in the prediction of hard CHD events to traditional risk factors (chi-square=4.33, p=0.04) in women, without contributing to the model containing both risk factors and CAC scores (chi square=1.55, p=0.21).
Our study indicates that TAC is a significant predictor of future coronary events only in women, independent of CAC. On studies obtained for either cardiac or lung applications, determination of TAC may provide modest supplementary prognostic information in women with no extra cost or radiation.
atherosclerosis; cardiac CT; coronary calcium; multi-detector CT; prognosis; thoracic atherosclerosis
Coronary artery calcium (CAC), measured by computed tomography (CT), has strong predictive value for incident cardiovascular disease (CVD) events. The standard CAC score is the Agatston, which is weighted upward for greater calcium density. However, some data suggest increased plaque calcium density may be protective for CVD.
To determine the independent associations of CAC volume and CAC density with incident CVD events.
Design, Setting, and Participants
Multicenter, prospective observational MESA study (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis), conducted at 6 US field centers of 3398 men and women from 4 race/ethnicity groups; non-Hispanic white, African American, Hispanic, and Chinese. Participants were aged 45-84 years, free of known CVD at baseline, had CAC greater than 0 on their baseline CT, and were followed up through October 2010.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Incident coronary heart disease (CHD) and all CVD events
During a median of 7.6 years of follow-up, there were 175 CHD events and an additional 90 other CVD events for a total of 265 CVD events. With both lnCAC volume and CAC density scores in the same multivariable model, the lnCAC volume score showed an independent association with incident CHD, with a hazard ratio (HR) of 1.81 (95% CI, 1.47-2.23) per standard deviation (SD = 1.6) increase, absolute risk increase 6.1 per 1000 person-years, and for CVD an HR of 1.68 (95% CI, 1.42-1.98) per SD increase, absolute risk increase 7.9 per 1000 person-years. Conversely, the CAC density score showed an independent inverse association, with an HR of 0.73 (95% CI, 0.58-0.91) per SD (SD = 0.7) increase for CHD, absolute risk decrease 5.5 per 1000 person-years, and an HR of 0.71 (95% CI, 0.60-0.85) per SD increase for CVD, absolute risk decrease 8.2 per 1000 person years. Area under the receiver operating characteristic curve analyses showed significantly improved risk prediction with the addition of the density score to a model containing the volume score for both CHD and CVD. In the intermediate CVD risk group, the area under the curve for CVD increased from 0.53 (95% CI, 0.48-0.59) to 0.59 (95% CI, 0.54-0.64), P = .02.
Conclusions and Relevance
CAC volume was positively and independently associated with CHD and CVD risk. At any level of CAC volume, CAC density was inversely and significantly associated with CHD and CVD risk. The role of CAC density should be considered when evaluating current CAC scoring systems.
This study sought to investigate the relationship between myocardial perfusion and N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) in asymptomatic individuals without overt coronary artery disease. NT-proBNP is a cardiac neurohormone secreted from the ventricles in response to ventricular volume expansion and pressure overload, and may also be elevated in the setting of reduced myocardial perfusion. We hypothesized that reduced myocardial perfusion reserve (MPR) would be associated with elevated NT-proBNP in individuals free of overt cardiovascular disease. MPR was measured by cardiac magnetic resonance, before and after adenosine infusion, in 184 MESA participants (mean age 60 ± 10.4, 58% white, 42% Hispanic, 44% female) without overt cardiovascular disease. MPR was modeled as hyperemic myocardial blood flow (MBF) adjusted for resting MBF. A linear regression analysis, adjusted for demographics, established cardiovascular risk factors, left ventricular mass, coronary calcium score, body mass index and medications, was used to determine the association between MPR and NT-proBNP. Individuals with low hyperemic MBF were more likely to be older, male, diabetic, have higher blood pressure and higher coronary artery calcium score. Mean hyperemic MBF was 3.04 ± 0.829 ml/min/g. MPR was inversely associated with NT-proBNP levels. In a fully adjusted model, every one standard deviation decrement in MPR was associated with a 21 % increment in NT-proBNP (p=0.04). In conclusion, MPR is inversely associated with NT-proBNP level in this cross sectional study of asymptomatic individuals free of overt coronary artery disease, suggesting that higher NT-proBNP levels may reflect subclinical myocardial microvascular dysfunction.
myocardial perfusion; myocardial blood flow; NT-pro-BNP
To determine the relationship between carotid intima–media thickness (IMT), coronary artery calcification (CAC), and myocardial blood flow (MBF) at rest and during vasomotor stress in type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM).
In 68 individuals, carotid IMT was measured using high-resolution vascular ultrasound, while the presence of CAC was determined with electron beam tomography (EBT). Global and regional MBF was determined in milliliters per gram per minute with 13N-ammonia and positron emission tomography (PET) at rest, during cold pressor testing (CPT), and during adenosine (ADO) stimulation.
There was neither a relationship between carotid IMT and CAC (r=0.10, p=0.32) nor between carotid IMT and coronary circulatory function in response to CPT and during ADO (r=−0.18, p=0.25 and r=0.10, p=0.54, respectively). In 33 individuals, EBT detected CAC with a mean Agatston-derived calcium score of 44±18. There was a significant difference in regional MBFs between territories with and without CAC at rest and during ADO-stimulated hyperemia (0.69±0.24 vs. 0.74±0.23 and 1.82±0.50 vs. 1.95±0.51 ml/g/min; p≤0.05, respectively) and also during CPT in DM but less pronounced (0.81±0.24 vs. 0.83±0.23 ml/g/min; p=ns). The increase in CAC was paralleled with a progressive regional decrease in resting as well as in CPT- and ADO-related MBFs (r=−0.36, p≤0.014; r=−0.46, p≤0.007; and r=−0.33, p≤0.041, respectively).
The absence of any correlation between carotid IMT and coronary circulatory function in type 2 DM suggests different features and stages of early atherosclerosis in the peripheral and coronary circulation. PET-measured MBF heterogeneity at rest and during vasomotor stress may reflect downstream fluid dynamic effects of coronary artery disease (CAD)-related early structural alterations of the arterial wall.
Blood flow; Carotid IMT; Circulation; Cold pressor test; Coronary artery calcification; Diabetes mellitus; Flow heterogeneity; Tomography; Vasomotor function
The transition from no coronary artery calcium (CAC) to detectable CAC is important, as even mild CAC is associated with increased cardiovascular events. We sought to characterize the anatomical distribution and burden of newly detectable CAC over 10-years follow-up.
We evaluated 3112 participants (mean age 58, 64% female) with baseline CAC=0 from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Participants underwent repeat CAC testing at different time intervals (between 2–10 years after baseline) per MESA protocol. Among participants who developed CAC on a follow-up scan, we used logistic regression and marginal probability modeling to describe the coronary distribution and burden of new CAC by age, gender, and race/ethnicity after adjustment for cardiovascular risk factors and time-to-detection.
A total of 1125 participants developed detectable CAC during follow-up with mean time-to-detection of 6.1 ± 3 years. New CAC was most commonly isolated to one vessel (72% of participants), with the left anterior descending (44% of total) most commonly affected followed by the right coronary (12%), left circumflex (10%) and left main (6%). These patterns were similar across age, gender, and race/ethnicity. In multivariable models, residual predictors of multi-vessel CAC (28% of total) included male gender, African-American or Hispanic race/ethnicity, hypertension, obesity, and diabetes. At the first detection of CAC>0, burden was usually low with median Agatston CAC score of 7.1, and <5% with CAC scores >100.
New onset CAC most commonly involves just one vessel, occurs in the left anterior descending artery, has low CAC burden. New CAC can be detected at an early stage when aggressive preventive strategies may provide benefit.
Coronary artery calcium; Left anterior descending artery; Right coronary artery; Left main artery; Left circumflex artery
To determine the association of HIV, immunologic, and inflammatory factors on coronary artery calcium (CAC), a marker of subclinical atherosclerosis.
Cross-sectional study comparing baseline data of males from Hawaii Aging with HIV –Cardiovascular Study (HAHCS) with the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) cohort. The cohorts were pooled to determine effects of HIV on CAC and explore immunologic and inflammatory factors that may explain development of CAC in HIV. Multivariable regression models compared CAC prevalence in HAHCS with MESA adjusting for coronary heart disease (CHD) risk profiles.
We studied 100 men from HAHCS and 2733 men from MESA. Positive CAC was seen in 58% HAHCS participants and 57% MESA participants. Mean CAC was 260.8 in HAHCS and 306.5 in MESA. Using relative risk (RR) regression, HAHCS participants had a greater risk (RR=1.20, P<0.05) of having positive CAC than MESA when adjusting for age, smoking status, diabetes, antihypertensive therapy, BMI, systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, and HDL cholesterol. Among participants with positive CAC, HIV infection was not associated with larger amounts of CAC. Among HAHCS participants, current HIV viral load, CD4, length of HIV, interleukin 6 (IL-6), fibrinogen, C-reactive protein (CRP), and D-dimer were not associated with the presence or amount of CAC.
HIV was independently associated with a positive CAC in men with increased likelihood occurring between 45 and 50 years of age. Current HIV viral load, CD4 count, length of HIV, and inflammatory markers were unrelated to either presence or amount of CAC.
Antiviral therapy; Coronary artery calcium; MESA; Framingham Risk Score
The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) showed that the addition of coronary artery calcium (CAC) to traditional risk factors improves risk classification, particularly in intermediate risk asymptomatic patients with LDL cholesterol levels <160 mg/dL. However, the cost-effectiveness of incorporating CAC into treatment decision rules has yet to be clearly delineated.
To model the cost-effectiveness of CAC for cardiovascular risk stratification in asymptomatic, intermediate risk patients not taking a statin. Treatment based on CAC was compared to (1) treatment of all intermediate-risk patients, and (2) treatment on the basis of United States guidelines.
We developed a Markov model of first coronary heart disease (CHD) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) events. We modeled statin treatment in intermediate risk patients with CAC≥1 and CAC≥100, with different intensities of statins based on the CAC score. We compared these CAC-based treatment strategies to a “treat all” strategy and to treatment according to the Adult Treatment Panel III (ATP III) guidelines. Clinical and economic outcomes were modeled over both five- and ten-year time horizons. Outcomes consisted of CHD and CVD events and Quality-Adjusted Life Years (QALYs). Sensitivity analyses considered the effect of higher event rates, different CAC and statin costs, indirect costs, and re-scanning patients with incidentalomas.
We project that it is both cost-saving and more effective to scan intermediate-risk patients for CAC and to treat those with CAC≥1, compared to treatment based on established risk-assessment guidelines. Treating patients with CAC≥100 is also preferred to existing guidelines when we account for statin side effects and the disutility of statin use.
Compared to the alternatives we assessed, CAC testing is both effective and cost saving as a risk-stratification tool, particularly if there are adverse effects of long-term statin use. CAC may enable providers to better tailor preventive therapy to patients' risks of CVD.
The coronary artery calcium score (CAC) predicts future coronary heart disease (CHD) events and could be used to guide primary prevention interventions, but CAC measurement has costs and exposes patients to low-dose radiation.
Methods and Results
We estimated the cost-effectiveness of measuring CAC and prescribing statin therapy based on the resulting score under a range of assumptions using an established model enhanced with CAC distribution and risk estimates from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Ten years of statin treatment for 10,000 55-year-old women with high cholesterol (10-year CHD risk=7.5%) was projected to prevent 32 myocardial infarctions, cause 70 cases of statin-induced myopathy, and add 1,108 years to total life-expectancy. Measuring CAC and targeting statin treatment to the 2,500 women with CAC>0 would provide 45% of the benefit (+501 life-years), but CAC measurement would cost $2.25 million and cause 9 radiation-induced cancers. Treat All was preferable to CAC screening in this scenario and across a broad range of other scenarios (CHD risk=2.5-15%) when statin assumptions were favorable ($0.13/pill and no quality of life penalty). When statin assumptions were less favorable ($1.00/pill and disutility=0.00384), CAC screening with statin treatment for persons with CAC>0 was cost-effective (<$50,000/quality-adjusted life-year) in this scenario, in 55-year old men with CHD risk=7.5%, and in other intermediate risk scenarios (CHD risk=5-10%). Our results were critically sensitive to statin cost and disutility, and relatively robust to other assumptions. Alternate CAC treatment thresholds (>100 or >300) were generally not cost-effective.
CAC testing in intermediate risk patients can be cost-effective, but only if statins are costly or significantly impact quality of life.
coronary; atherosclerosis; economics; calcium; statins
The presence and extent of coronary artery calcium (CAC) correlates with the overall magnitude of coronary atherosclerotic plaque burden and with the development of subsequent coronary events. In this study we aim to establish whether age-gender specific percentiles of CAC predict cardiovascular outcomes better than the actual (absolute) CAC score.
MESA is a prospective cohort study of asymptomatic 6814 participants, followed for coronary heart disease (CHD) events including myocardial infarction, angina, resuscitated cardiac arrest, or CHD death. Time to incident CHD was modeled using Cox regression, and we compared models using percentiles based on age, gender and/or race/ethnicity to categories commonly used(0, 1-100, 101-400, 400+ Agatston units).
There were 163(2.4%) incident CHD events (median follow-up 3.75 years). Expressing CAC in terms of age and gender specific percentiles had significantly lower area under the ROC curve(AUC) than using absolute scores (women: AUC 0.73 versus 0.76,p=0.044; men: AUC 0.73 versus 0.77,p<0.001). Akaike’s information criterion (AIC) indicated better model fit using the overall score. Both methods robustly predicted events(>90th percentile associated with a hazard ratio(HR) of 16.4(95% c.i. 9.30,28.9), and score >400 associated with HR of 20.6(95% c.i. 11.8, 36.0). Within groups based on age/gender/race/ethnicity specific percentiles there remains a clear trend of increasing risk across levels of the absolute CAC groups. In contrast, once absolute CAC category is fixed, there is no increasing trend across levels of age/gender/race/ethnicity specific categories. Patients with low absolute scores are low risk, regardless of age-gender-ethnicity percentile rank. Persons with an absolute CAC score of >400 are high risk, regardless of percentile rank.
Using absolute CAC in standard groups performed better than age-gender-ethnicity percentiles in terms of model fit and discrimination. We recommend using cut-points based on the absolute CAC amount and the common CAC cutpoints of 100 and 400 appear to perform well.
prognosis; atherosclerosis; cardiac CT; coronary calcium
This study sought to evaluate the relationship between microalbuminuria (MA) and the development and progression of atherosclerosis, as assessed by incident and progression of coronary artery calcification (CAC).
MA is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, but the mechanism by which MA imparts this increased risk is not known.
The MESA (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis) study is a prospective cohort study of 6,814 self-identified White, African-American, Hispanic, or Chinese participants free of clinical cardiovascular disease at entry. Of the 6,775 individuals with available urine albumin data, we excluded 97 subjects with macroalbuminuria and 1,023 with missing follow-up CAC data. The final study population consists of 5,666 subjects.
At baseline, individuals with MA were more likely to have CAC >0 compared with those without MA (62% vs. 48%, p < 0.0001). During a mean follow-up of 2.4 ± 0.8 years, those with MA and no CAC at baseline were more likely to develop CAC (relative risk [RR]: 2.05, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.41 to 3.02, p < 0.0001) as compared with those without MA in demographic-adjusted analyses. After multivariant adjustment, the relationship was attenuated but remained statistically significant (RR: 1.76, 95% CI: 1.19 to 2.61, p = 0.005). Among those with CAC at baseline, those with versus those without MA had a 15 (95% CI: 8 to 22, p < 0.0001) volume units higher median increase in CAC in demographic-adjusted analyses. After multivariant adjustment, MA remained associated with incident CAC (RR: 1.76, 95% CI: 1.19 to 2.61, p = 0.005) and with progression of CAC (median increase in CAC volume score of 9 [95% CI: 2 to 16, p = 0.009]), relative to those without MA.
This large multiethnic, population-based study of asymptomatic individuals demonstrates an increased risk of incident CAC as well as greater CAC progression among those with MA. Further study is needed to determine the degree to which MA precedes and predicts progression of atherosclerosis and how this information can be used to reduce cardiovascular events.
coronary artery calcium; microalbuminuria; risk prediction; coronary heart disease; Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis
Modern imaging technology allows us the visualization of coronary artery calcification (CAC), a marker of subclinical coronary atherosclerosis. The prevalence, quantity, and risk factors for CAC were compared between two studies with similar imaging protocols but different source populations: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) and the Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study (HNR).
Methods and results
The measured CAC in 2220 MESA participants were compared with those in 3126 HNR participants with the inclusion criteria such as age 45–75 years, Caucasian race, and free of baseline cardiovascular disease. Despite similar mean levels of CAC of 244.6 among participants in MESA and of 240.3 in HNR (P = 0.91), the prevalence of CAC > 0 was lower in MESA (52.6%) compared with HNR (67.0%) with a prevalence rate ratio of CAC > 0 of 0.78 [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.72–0.85] after adjustment for known risk factors. Consequently, among participants with CAC > 0, the participants in MESA tended to have higher levels of CAC than those in HNR (ratio of CAC levels: 1.39; 95% CI: 1.19–1.63), since many HNR participants have small (near zero) CAC values.
The CAC prevalence was lower in the United States (MESA) cohort than in the German (HNR) cohort, which may be explained by more favourable risk factor levels among the MESA participants. The predictors for increased levels of CAC were, however, similar in both cohorts with the exception that male gender, blood pressure, and body mass index were more strongly associated in the HNR cohort.
Epidemiology; Atherosclerosis; Coronary artery calcium; Risk factors; Screening
Carotid and coronary atherosclerosis are associated to each other in imaging and autopsy studies. We evaluated whether carotid artery plaque seen on carotid ultrasound can predict incident coronary artery calcification (CAC).
Materials and Methods
We repeated Agatston calcium score measurements in 5445 participants of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) (mean age 57.9 years; 62.9% female). Internal carotid artery lesions were graded as 0%, 1-24%, >25% diameter narrowing and intima-media thickness (IMT) was measured. Plaque was present for any stenosis > 0%. CAC progression was evaluated with multivariable relative risk regression in cases with CAC = 0 at baseline and with multivariable linear regression for CAC > 0 adjusting for cardiovascular risk factors, body mass index, ethnicity, and common carotid IMT.
CAC was positive at baseline in 2708/5445 (49.7%) participants and became positive in 458/2837 (16.1%) at mean interval of 2.4 years between repeat examinations. Plaque and ICA IMT were both strongly associated with presence of CAC. After statistical adjustment, presence of carotid artery plaque significantly predicted incident CAC with a relative risk(RR) of 1.37 (95% Confidence Intervals: 1.12, 1.67). Incident CAC was associated with ICA IMT with an RR of 1.13 (95% Confidence Intervals: 1.03, 1.25) for each mm increase. Progression of CAC was also significantly associated (p < 0.001) with plaque and ICA IMT.
In individuals free of cardiovascular disease, subjective and quantitative measures of carotid artery plaques by ultrasound imaging are associated with CAC incidence and progression.
Data accumulated from mouse studies and in vitro studies of human arteries support the notion that soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (sICAM-1) and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) play important roles in the inflammation process involved in atherosclerosis. However, at the population level, the utility of sICAM-1 and MCP-1 as biomarkers for subclinical atherosclerosis is less clear. In the follow-up exam of the NHLBI Family Heart Study, we evaluated whether plasma levels of sICAM-1 and MCP-1 were associated with coronary artery calcification (CAC), a measure of the burden of coronary atherosclerosis.
CAC was measured using the Agatston score with multidetector computed tomography. Information on CAC and MCP-1 was obtained in 2246 whites and 470 African Americans (mean age 55 years) without a history of coronary heart disease (CHD). Information on sICAM-1 was obtained for white participants only.
In whites, after adjustment for age and gender, the odds ratios (ORs) of CAC (CAC > 0) associated with the second, third, fourth, and fifth quintiles of sICAM-1 compared to the first quintile were 1.22 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.91–1.63), 1.15 (0.84–1.58), 1.49 (1.09–2.05), and 1.72 (1.26–2.36) (p = 0.0005 for trend test), respectively. The corresponding ORs for the second to fifth quintiles of MCP-1 were 1.26 (0.92–1.73), 0.99 (0.73–1.34), 1.42 (1.03–1.96), and 2.00 (1.43–2.79) (p < 0.0001 for trend test), respectively. In multivariable analysis that additionally adjusted for other CHD risk factors, the association of CAC with sICAM-1 and MCP-1 was attenuated and no longer statistically significant. In African Americans, the age and gender-adjusted ORs of CAC associated with the second and third tertiles of MCP-1 compared to the first tertile were 1.16 (0.64–2.08) and 1.25 (0.70–2.23) (p = 0.44 for trend test), respectively. This result did not change materially after additional adjustment for other CHD risk factors. Test of race interaction showed that the magnitude of association between MCP-1 and CAC did not differ significantly between African Americans and whites. Similar results were obtained when CAC ≥ 10 was analyzed as an outcome for both MCP-1 and sICAM-1.
This study suggests that sICAM-1 and MCP-1 are biomarkers of coronary atherosclerotic burden and their association with CAC was mainly driven by established CHD risk factors.
We sought to evaluate the impact of coronary artery calcium (CAC) in individuals at the extremes of risk factor (RF) burden.
Methods and results
6698 individuals from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) were followed for coronary heart disease (CHD) events over mean 7.1 ± 1 years. Annualized CHD event rates were compared among each RF category (0, 1, 2, or ≥3) after stratification by CAC score (0, 1–100, 101–300, and >300). The following traditional modifiable RFs were considered: cigarette smoking, LDL cholesterol ≥3.4 mmol/L, low HDL cholesterol, hypertension, and diabetes. There were 1067 subjects (16%) with 0 RFs, whereas 1205 (18%) had ≥3 RFs. Among individuals with 0 RFs, 68% had CAC 0, whereas 12 and 5% had CAC >100 and >300, respectively. Among individuals with ≥3 RFs, 35% had CAC 0, whereas 34 and 19% had CAC >100 and >300, respectively. Overall, 339 (5.1%) CHD events occurred. Individuals with 0 RFs and CAC >300 had an event rate 3.5 times higher than individuals with ≥3 RFs and CAC 0 (10.9/1000 vs. 3.1/1000 person-years). Similar results were seen across categories of Framingham risk score.
Among individuals at the extremes of RF burden, the distribution of CAC is heterogeneous. The presence of a high CAC burden, even among individuals without RFs, is associated with an elevated event rate, whereas the absence of CAC, even among those with many RF, is associated with a low event rate. Coronary artery calcium has the potential to further risk stratify asymptomatic individuals at the extremes of RF burden.
Coronary artery calcium; Risk factors; Coronary heart disease
We evaluated family history as a predictor of incident and progressive coronary artery calcium (CAC) using data from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA).
MESA is a multi-center prospective study of 6,814 asymptomatic individuals. The relationship between family history of coronary heart disease (CHD) and CAC incidence or progression has not been described previously.
A total of 5,099 participants had detailed information about family history of CHD (late versus premature and parental versus sibling history). The mean time between CAC scans was 3.1 ± 1.3 years. The association of late versus premature family history was assessed against CAC change using multivariate regression model adjusted for demographics and cardiac risk factors.
A family history of premature CHD was associated with an odds ratio (OR) of 1.55 (p < 0.01) for incident development of CAC after adjusting for risk factors and demographics. A premature family history was associated with 14.4 units (p < 0.01) greater volume scores compared to those with no family history in similarly adjusted models by median regression analysis. A combined parental and sibling family history was associated with the greatest incidence and progression in demographic-adjusted models. Caucasians demonstrated the most consistent predictive relationship between family history of premature CHD and incidence (p < 0.01) and progression (p < 0.05) of CAC, though no significant interaction with ethnicity was noted.
Family history of premature CHD is associated with enhanced development and progression of subclinical disease, independent of other risk factors, in a multiethnic, population-based study.
Subclinical atherosclerosis; coronary calcium; family history
Inflammatory markers predict coronary heart disease (CHD). However, associations with coronary artery calcium (CAC), a marker of subclinical CHD, are not established.
We examined cross-sectional associations of C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6 (IL-6) and fibrinogen with CAC presence (Agatston score > 0 by computed tomography) in 6,783 Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) participants.
In all participants, those in the highest, compared to lowest, quartile of CRP had a relative risk (RR, 95% confidence interval) of 1.13 (1.06-1.19; p<0.01) for CAC in age, sex and ethnicity adjusted models. For highest versus lowest quartiles, relative risks were 1.22 (1.15-1.30; p<0.01) for IL-6 and 1.18 (1.11-1.24; p<0.01) for fibrinogen. Adjusting for CHD risk factors (smoking, diabetes, blood pressure, obesity and dyslipidemia) attenuated RRs. RRs for CAC were 1.05 (0.99-1.12; p=0.63) for CRP, 1.12 (1.06-1.20; p<0.01) for IL-6 and 1.09 (1.02-1.16; p=0.01) for fibrinogen in multivariable adjusted models. Results were similar for men and women and across ethnic groups.
Inflammatory markers were weakly associated with CAC presence and burden in MESA. Our data support the hypothesis that inflammatory biomarkers and CAC reflect distinct pathophysiology.
Atherosclerosis; Calcium; Inflammation; Population
South Asians (individuals from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka) have high rates of cardiovascular disease which cannot be explained by traditional risk factors. Few studies have examined coronary artery calcium (CAC) in South Asians.
We created a community-based cohort of South Asians in the United States and compared the prevalence and distribution of CAC to four racial/ethnic groups in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). We compared 803 asymptomatic South Asians free of cardiovascular disease to the four MESA racial/ethnic groups (2,622 Whites, 1,893 African Americans, 1,496 Latinos and 803 Chinese Americans).
The age-adjusted prevalence of any CAC was similar between White and South Asian men, but was lower in South Asian women compared to White women. After adjusting for all covariates associated with CAC, South Asian men were similar to White men and had higher CAC scores compared to African Americans, Latinos and Chinese Americans. In fully adjusted models, CAC scores were similar for South Asian women compared to all women enrolled in MESA. However, South Asian women ≥70 years had a higher prevalence of any CAC than most other racial/ethnic groups.
South Asian men have similarly high CAC burden as White men, but higher CAC than other racial/ethnic groups. South Asian women appear to have similar CAC burden compared to other women, but have somewhat higher CAC burden in older age. The high burden of subclinical coronary atherosclerosis in South Asians may partly explain higher rates of cardiovascular disease in South Asians.
South Asians; ethnic differences; subclinical atherosclerosis; coronary artery calcium
We sought to evaluate the impact of coronary artery calcium (CAC) burden and regional distribution on the need for and type of future coronary revascularization (percutaneous [PCI] vs. surgical [CABG]) among asymptomatic individuals.
The need for coronary revascularization and the chosen mode of revascularization are thought to be a function of disease burden and anatomic distribution. The association between the baseline burden and regional distribution of CAC and the risk and type of future coronary revascularization remains unknown.
6,540 MESA participants (individuals aged 45-84 years, free of known baseline cardiovascular disease) with vessel-specific CAC measurement were followed for median 8.5 (7.7 – 8.6) years. Annualized rates and multivariable adjusted hazard ratios for revascularization and revascularization type were analyzed according to CAC score category, number of vessels with CAC (0-4, including the left main), and by involvement of individual coronary arteries.
A total of 265 revascularizations (4.2%) occurred during follow-up, and 206 (78% of total) were preceded by adjudicated symptoms. Revascularization was uncommon when CAC=0 (0.6%), with graded increase over both rising CAC burden and increasingly diffuse CAC distribution. The revascularization rate per 1,000 person-years for CAC 1-100, 101-400, and >400 was 4.9, 11.7 and 25.4; for 1, 2, 3, and 4 vessels with CAC the rates were 3.0, 8.0, 16.1, and 24.8. In multivariable models adjusting for CAC score, number of vessels with CAC remained predictive of mode of revascularization. Independent predictors of CABG vs. PCI included 3 or 4 vessel CAC, higher CAC burden, and involvement of the left main. Risk for CABG was extremely low with <3 vessel baseline CAC. Results were similar when considering only symptom-driven revascularizations.
In this multi-ethnic cohort of asymptomatic individuals, baseline CAC was highly predictive of future coronary revascularization procedures, with measures of CAC burden and distribution each independently predicting need for PCI vs. CABG over 8.5 year follow-up.
cardiac CT; coronary artery calcium; coronary artery disease; revacularization
To evaluate the relationship of coronary artery calcium (CAC) to coronary heart disease (CHD) events among young and elderly individuals.
Participants and Methods
This is a secondary analysis of data from a prospective, multi-ethnic, population-based cohort study designed to study subclinical atherosclerosis. A total of 6809 persons aged 45 to 84 years old without known cardiovascular disease at baseline were enrolled from July 2000-September 2002. All participants had CAC scoring performed, and were followed up for a median of 8.5 years. The main outcome measures studied were CHD events, defined as myocardial infarction, definite angina or probable angina followed by revascularization, resuscitated cardiac arrest or death attributable to coronary heart disease.
Comparing individuals with CAC=0 to those with CAC > 100, there was an increased incidence of CHD events from 1 to 21/1000 person-years, and 2 to 23/1000 person-years in the 45-54 and 75-84 year old age groups respectively. Compared to CAC=0, CAC 1-100 and CAC >100 impart an increased multi-variable adjusted CHD event risk in both the 45-54 and 75-84 year old age groups [HR (95% CI): 45-54 years old, CAC 1-100: 2.3 (0.9-5.8), CAC>100: 12.4 (5.1-30.0); 75-84 years old, CAC 1-100: 5.4 (1.2-23.8), CAC>100: 12.1 (2.9-50.2)].
Increased CAC imparts an increased CHD risk in younger and elderly individuals, suggesting that once CAC is known chronologic age has less importance. The utility of CAC scoring as a risk-stratification tool extends both to younger and elderly patients.
coronary artery calcium; coronary artery disease; aging
Short stature is associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD); although the mechanisms for this relationship are unknown, shared genetic factors have been proposed. Subclinical atherosclerosis, measured by coronary artery calcification (CAC), is associated with CHD events and represents part of the biological continuum to overt CHD. Many molecular mechanisms of CAC development are shared with bone growth. Thus, we examined whether there was evidence of shared genes (pleiotropy) between adult stature and CAC.
877 asymptomatic white adults (46% men) from 625 families in a community-based sample had computed tomography measures of CAC. Pleiotropy between height and CAC was determined using maximum-likelihood estimation implemented in SOLAR.
Adult height was significantly and inversely associated with CAC score (P=0.01). After adjusting for age, sex, and CHD risk factors, the estimated genetic correlation between height and CAC score was -0.37 and was significantly different than 0 (P=0.001) and -1 (P<0.001). The environmental correlation between height and CAC score was 0.60 and was significantly different than 0 (P=0.024).
Further studies of shared genetic factors between height and CAC may provide important insight into the complex genetic architecture of CHD, in part through increased understanding of the molecular pathways underlying the process of both normal growth and disease development. Bivariate genetic linkage analysis may provide a powerful mechanism for identifying specific genomic regions associated with both height and CAC.
Genetics; Atherosclerosis; Calcium; Imaging; Stature
While metabolic syndrome (MetS) and diabetes confer greater cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, recent evidence suggests that individuals with these conditions have a wide range of risk. We evaluated whether screening for coronary artery calcium (CAC) and carotid intimal-medial thickness (CIMT) can improve CVD risk stratification over traditional risk factors (RFs) in people with MetS and diabetes.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
We assessed CAC and CIMT in 6,603 people aged 45–84 years in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Cox regression examined the association of CAC and CIMT with coronary heart disease (CHD) and CVD over 6.4 years in MetS and diabetes.
Of the subjects, 1,686 (25%) had MetS but no diabetes and 881 (13%) had diabetes. Annual CHD event rates were 1.0% among MetS and 1.5% for diabetes. Ethnicity and RF-adjusted hazard ratios for CHD for CAC 1–99 to ≥400 vs. 0 in subjects with neither MetS nor diabetes ranged from 2.6 to 9.5; in those with MetS, they ranged from 3.9 to 11.9; and in those with diabetes, they ranged from 2.9 to 6.2 (all P < 0.05 to P < 0.001). Findings were similar for CVD. CAC increased the C-statistic for events (P < 0.001) over RFs and CIMT in each group while CIMT added negligibly to prediction over RFs.
Individuals with MetS or diabetes have low risks for CHD when CAC or CIMT is not increased. Prediction of CHD and CVD events is improved by CAC more than by CIMT. Screening for CAC or CIMT can stratify risk in people with MetS and diabetes and support the latest recommendations regarding CAC screening in those with diabetes.