This study assessed the cross-sectional association between coronary artery calcification (CAC) and myocardial perfusion in an asymptomatic population.
Clinical studies showed that the prevalence of stress-induced ischemia increased with CAC burden among patients with coronary heart disease (CHD). Whether an association between CAC and myocardial perfusion exists in subjects without a history of CHD remains largely unknown.
A total of 222 men and women, ages 45 to 84 years old and free of CHD diagnosis, in the Minnesota field center of the MESA (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis) were studied. Myocardial blood flow (MBF) was measured using magnetic resonance imaging during rest and adenosine-induced hyperemia. Perfusion reserve was calculated as the ratio of hyperemic to resting MBF. Agatston CAC score was determined from chest multidetector computed tomography.
Mean values of hyperemic MBF and perfusion reserve, but not resting MBF, were monotonically lower across increasing CAC levels. After adjusting for age and gender, odds ratios (95% confidence intervals) of reduced perfusion reserve (<2.5) for subjects with CAC scores of 0, 0.1 to 99.9, 100 to 399, and ≥400 were 1.00 (reference), 2.16 (0.96 to 4.84), 2.81 (1.04 to 7.58), and 4.99 (1.73 to 14.4), respectively. Further adjustment for other coronary risk factors did not substantially modify the association. However, the inverse association between perfusion reserve and CAC attenuated with advancing age (p for interaction < 0.05).
Coronary vasodilatory response was associated inversely with the presence and severity of CAC in asymptomatic adults. Myocardial perfusion could be impaired by or manifest the progression to subclinical coronary atherosclerosis in the absence of clinical CHD.
To evaluate whether racial discrimination is associated with coronary artery calcification (CAC) in African-American participants of the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study.
The study included American Black men (n = 571) and women (n = 791) aged 33 to 45 years in the CARDIA study. Perceived racial discrimination was assessed based on the Experiences of Discrimination scale (range, 1–35). CAC was evaluated using computed tomography. Primary analyses assessed associations between perceived racial discrimination and presence of CAC using multivariable-adjusted logistic regression analysis, adjusted for age, gender, socioeconomic position (SEP), psychosocial variables, and coronary heart disease (CHD) risk factors.
In age- and gender-adjusted logistic regression models, odds of CAC decreased as the perceived racial discrimination score increased (odds ratio [OR], 0.94; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.90–0.98 per 1-unit increase in Experiences of Discrimination scale). The relationship did not markedly change after further adjustment for SEP, psychosocial variables, or CHD risk factors (OR, 0.93; 95% CI, 0.87–0.99).
Perceived racial discrimination was negatively associated with CAC in this study. Estimation of more forms of racial discrimination as well as replication of analyses in other samples will help to confirm or refute these findings.
Prejudice; Coronary Disease; African Americans
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
The aim of this study was to examine whether magnesium intake is associated with coronary artery calcification (CAC) and abdominal aortic calcification (AAC).
Animal and cell studies suggest that magnesium may prevent calcification within atherosclerotic plaques underlying cardiovascular disease. Little is known about the association of magnesium intake and atherosclerotic calcification in humans.
We examined cross-sectional associations of self-reported total (dietary and supplemental) magnesium intake estimated by food frequency questionnaire with CAC and AAC in participants of the Framingham Heart Study who were free of cardiovascular disease and underwent Multi-Detector Computed Tomography (MDCT) of the heart and abdomen (n = 2,695; age: 53 ± 11 years), using multivariate-adjusted Tobit regression. CAC and AAC were quantified using modified Agatston scores (AS). Models were adjusted for age, sex, body mass index, smoking status, systolic blood pressure, fasting insulin, total-to-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol ratio, use of hormone replacement therapy (women only), menopausal status (women only), treatment for hyperlipidemia, hypertension, cardiovascular disease prevention, or diabetes, as well as self-reported intake of calcium, vitamins D and K, saturated fat, fiber, alcohol, and energy. Secondary analyses included logistic regressions of CAC and AAC outcomes as cut-points (AS >0 and AS ≥90th percentile for age and sex), as well as sex-stratified analyses.
In fully adjusted models, a 50-mg/day increment in self-reported total magnesium intake was associated with 22% lower CAC (p < 0.001) and 12% lower AAC (p = 0.07). Consistent with these observations, the odds of having any CAC were 58% lower (p trend: <0.001) and any AAC were 34% lower (p trend: 0.01), in those with the highest compared to those with the lowest magnesium intake. Stronger inverse associations were observed in women than in men.
In community-dwelling participants free of cardiovascular disease, self-reported magnesium intake was inversely associated with arterial calcification, which may play a contributing role in magnesium's protective associations in stroke and fatal coronary heart disease.
abdominal aortic calcification; computed tomography; coronary artery calcification; diet; Framingham Heart Study; magnesium
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.
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
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
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.
Psychosocial stress is a risk factor for coronary heart disease (CHD). The mechanisms are incompletely understood, although dysfunction of the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis might be involved. We examined the association between cortisol responses to laboratory-induced mental stress and the progression of coronary artery calcification (CAC).
Methods and Results
Participants were 466 healthy men and women (mean age = 62.7±5.6 yrs), without history or objective signs of CHD, drawn from the Whitehall II epidemiological cohort. At the baseline assessment salivary cortisol was measured in response to mental stressors, consisting of a 5-min Stroop task and a 5-min mirror tracing task. CAC was measured at baseline and at 3 years follow up using electron beam computed tomography. CAC progression was defined as an increase >10 Agatston units between baseline and follow up. 38.2% of the sample demonstrated CAC progression over the 3 years follow up. There was considerable variation in the cortisol stress response, with approximately 40% of the sample responding to the stress tasks with an increase in cortisol of at least 1 mmol/l. There was an association between cortisol stress reactivity (per SD) and CAC progression (odds ratio = 1.27, 95% CI, 1.02–1.60) after adjustments for age, sex, pre-stress cortisol, employment grade, smoking, resting systolic BP, fibrinogen, body mass index, and use of statins. There was no association between systolic blood pressure reactivity and CAC progression (odds ratio per SD increase = 1.03, 95% CI, 0.85–1.24). Other independent predictors of CAC progression included age, male sex, smoking, resting systolic blood pressure, and fibrinogen.
Results demonstrate an association between heightened cortisol reactivity to stress and CAC progression. These data support the notion that cortisol reactivity, an index of HPA function, is one of the possible mechanisms through which psychosocial stress may influence the risk of CHD.
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.
To examine whether the relationship between cardiovascular disease risk factors and coronary artery calcification (CAC) is modified by race among those with diabetes.
Data were pooled data from three studies (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, Family Heart Study, Diabetes Heart Study) for a total of 835 blacks and 1122 whites with diabetes. CAC was quantified by cardiac computed tomography and risk factors were obtained using standard methods. Regression models examined the relationship between risk factors and presence and quantity of CAC.
The average age of the cohort was 60 years; 57% were women. Presence of CAC was lower in blacks compared to whites (odds ratio = 0.22 for men, 0.57 for women, p<0.01). HbA1c, duration of diabetes, LDL, smoking, and BMI were independently associated with presence of CAC; HDL, triglycerides and CRP were not. Race did not modify these associations. Adjustment for multiple risk factors did not explain the race disparity in CAC.
CAC was reduced in blacks compared to whites in persons with diabetes. This effect was most pronounced in men. The relationship between risk factors and CAC did not differ between races. Racial differences in CAC are likely due to unmeasured risk factors and/or genetic susceptibility.
coronary artery disease; diabetes mellitus; epidemiology; African Americans; cohort studies
We assess the improvement in discrimination afforded by the addition thoracic aorta calcium (TAC), aortic valve calcification (AVC), mitral annular calcification (MAC), pericardial adipose tissue volume (PAT) and liver attenuation (LA) to Framingham risk score(FRS) + coronary artery calcium (CAC) for incident CHD/CVD in a multi ethnic cohort.
Methods and Results
A total 5745(2710 were intermediate Framingham risk, 210 CVD and 155 CHD events) 251 had adjudicated CHD, 346 had CVD events, 321 died after 9 years of follow-up. Cox proportional hazard, receiver operator curve (ROC) and net reclassification improvement (NRI) analyses.
In the whole cohort and also when the analysis was restricted to only the intermediate risk participants: CAC, TAC, AVC and MAC were all significantly associated with incident CVD/CHD/ mortality; CAC had the strongest association. When added to the FRS, CAC had the highest area under the curve (AUC) for the prediction of incident CHD/CVD; LA had the least. The addition of TAC, AVC, MAC, PAT and LA to FRS + CAC all resulted in a significant reduction in AUC for incident CHD [0.712 vs. 0.646, 0.655, 0.652, 0.648 and 0.569; all p<0.01 respectively] in participants with intermediate FRS. The addition of CAC to FRS resulted in an NRI of 0.547 for incident CHD in the intermediate risk group. The NRI when TAC, AVC, MAC, PAT and LA were added to FRS + CAC were 0.024, 0.026, 0.019, 0.012 and 0.012 respectively, for incident CHD in the intermediate risk group. Similar results were obtained for incident CVD in the intermediate risk group and also when the whole cohort was used instead of the intermediate FRS group.
The addition of CAC to the FRS provides superior discrimination especially in intermediate risk individuals compared with the addition of TAC, AVC, MAC, PAT or LA for incident CHD/CVD. Compared with FRS + CAC, the addition of TAC, AVC, MAC, PAT or LA individually to FRS + CAC worsens the discrimination for incident CHD/CVD. These CT risk markers are unlikely to be useful for improving cardiovascular risk prediction.
cardiac CT derived risk factors; coronary heart disease; cardiovascular events; risk prediction
Even among asymptomatic people at low risk (<10%) by Framingham Risk Score (FRS), high coronary artery calcium (CAC) scores signify higher predicted risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) events. We sought to determine non-invasive factors (without radiation exposure) significantly associated with CAC in low-risk, asymptomatic persons. In a cross-sectional analysis, we studied 3046 participants from MESA at low 10-year predicted risk (FRS <10%) for CHD events. Multivariable logistic regression was used to assess the association of novel markers with presence of any CAC (CAC >0) and advanced CAC (CAC ≥ 300). CAC >0 and CAC ≥ 300 were present in 30% and 3.5% of participants, respectively. Factor VIIIc, fibrinogen and sICAM were each associated with CAC presence (P ≤ 0.02); and C-reactive protein, D-dimer and carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) with advanced CAC (P ≤ 0.03). The base model combining traditional risk factors had excellent discrimination for advanced CAC (C-statistic, 0.808). Addition of the 2 best-fit models combining biomarkers plus/minus CIMT improved the c-statistics to 0.822 and 0.820, respectively. All 3 models calibrated well, but were similar in estimating individual risk probabilities for advanced CAC (prevalence = 9.97%, 10.63% and 10.10% in the highest quartiles of predicted probabilities versus 0.26%, 0.26% and 0.26% in the lowest quartiles, respectively). In conclusion, in low risk individuals, traditional risk factors alone predicted advanced CAC with high discrimination and calibration. Biomarker combinations +/− CIMT were also significantly associated with advanced CAC, but improvement in prediction and estimation of clinical risk were modest compared to traditional risk factors alone.
coronary calcium; biomarkers; novel markers; low-risk; risk factors
The General Cardiovascular Risk Profile (GCRP) is a multivariable model that predicts global cardiovascular disease risk. Our goal was to assess the ability of the GCRP to identify individuals with advanced coronary artery calcification (CAC), and determine whether identification is improved with family history.
Methods and Results
Using data from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, three sex-specific models were developed with ordinal logistic regressions to relate risk factors to CAC scores. Model 1 included covariates in the GCRP. Then family history was added, defined as having at least one first-degree relative with premature coronary heart disease (CHD) (Model 2), or as a weak, moderate or strong family history based on number of relatives with CHD, age at onset, and presence of stroke or diabetes in the family (Model 3). For each model, we estimated mathematical CAC risk functions, derived CAC score sheets, evaluated the ability to discriminate persons having positive CAC scores, and assessed reclassification of individuals with low, intermediate, or high probability of CAC >300. Model 1 worked well to identify women and men with positive CAC scores; c-statistics were 0.752 and 0.718 and X2 values were 821.2 (p<0.0001) and 730.6 (p<0.0001), respectively. Addition of family history improved discrimination and fit of Model 1. However, reclassification of participants with advanced CAC was significantly improved with Model 3 only.
The GCRP identifies advanced CAC, an emerging indication for aggressive risk factor modification. Incorporation of family history, especially comprehensive familial risk stratification, provides incremental prognostic value.
coronary artery calcium; family history; risk factors
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the major cause of death in the United States. Coronary artery calcification (CAC) scores are independent predictors of CHD. African Americans (AA) have higher rates of CHD but are less well-studied in genomic studies. We assembled the largest AA data resource currently available with measured CAC to identify associated genetic variants.
We analyzed log transformed CAC quantity (ln(CAC + 1)), for association with ~2.5 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and performed an inverse-variance weighted meta-analysis on results for 5,823 AA from 8 studies. Heritability was calculated using family studies. The most significant SNPs among AAs were evaluated in European Ancestry (EA) CAC data; conversely, the significance of published SNPs for CAC/CHD in EA was queried within our AA meta-analysis.
Heritability of CAC was lower in AA (~30%) than previously reported for EA (~50%). No SNP reached genome wide significance (p < 5E-08). Of 67 SNPs with p < 1E-05 in AA there was no evidence of association in EA CAC data. Four SNPs in regions previously implicated in CAC/CHD (at 9p21 and PHACTR1) in EA reached nominal significance for CAC in AA, with concordant direction. Among AA, rs16905644 (p = 4.08E-05) had the strongest association in the 9p21 region.
While we observed substantial heritability for CAC in AA, we failed to identify loci for CAC at genome-wide significant levels despite having adequate power to detect alleles with moderate to large effects. Although suggestive signals in AA were apparent at 9p21 and additional CAC and CAD EA loci, overall the data suggest that even larger samples and an ethnic specific focus will be required for GWAS discoveries for CAC in AA populations.
Atherosclerosis; Coronary artery calcium; Genetics; Meta-analysis; African-American
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
Coronary artery calcium (CAC) predicts coronary heart disease (CHD) events and serial measurement of CAC has been proposed to evaluate atherosclerosis progression. We examined whether progression of CAC is a predictor of future CHD events.
Methods and Results
We studied 6,778 persons (52.8% female) aged 45–84 years from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. 5,682 persons had baseline and follow-up CAC scans approximately 2.5 ± 0.8 years apart; multiple imputation was used to account for the remainder (n=1,096) missing follow-up scans. Median follow-up duration from the baseline was 7.6 (max=9.0) years. CAC change was assessed by absolute change between baseline and follow-up CAC. Cox proportional hazards regression providing hazard ratios (HR) examined the relation of change in CAC with CHD events, adjusting for age, gender, ethnicity, baseline calcium score, and other risk factors. 343 total and 206 hard CHD events occurred. The annual change in CAC averaged 24.9 ± 65.3 units. Among persons without CAC at baseline (n=3,396), a 5 unit annual change in CAC was associated with an adjusted HR of 1.4 (1.0–1.9) for total and 1.5 (1.1–2.1) for hard CHD. Among those with CAC>0 at baseline HR’s (per 100 unit annual change) were 1.2 (1.1–1.4) and 1.3 (1.1–1.5), respectively. Among participants with baseline CAC, those with annual progression of ≥300 units had adjusted HR’s of 3.8 (1.5–9.6) for total and 6.3 (1.9–21.5) for hard CHD compared to those without progression.
Progression of CAC is associated with an increased risk for future hard and total CHD events.
coronary calcification; atherosclerosis; imaging; coronary heart disease
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 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
Conflicting evidence exists regarding whether obesity is independently associated with coronary artery calcium (CAC), a measure of coronary atherosclerosis. We examined an independent association of obesity with prevalent CAC among samples of multi-ethnic groups whose background populations have varying levels of obesity and coronary heart disease (CHD).
Methods and results
We analysed a population-based sample of 1212 men, aged 40–49 years free of clinical cardiovascular disease recruited in 2002–06; 310 Japanese in Japan (JJ), 294 Koreans in South Korea (KN), 300 Japanese Americans (JA), and 308 Whites in the USA (UW). We defined prevalent CAC as an Agatston score of ≥10. Prevalent CAC was calculated by tertile of the body mass index (BMI) in each ethnic group and was plotted against the corresponding median of tertile BMI. Additionally, logistic regression was conducted to examine whether an association of the BMI was independent of conventional risk factors. The median BMI and crude prevalence of CAC for JJ, KN, JA, and UW were 23.4, 24.4, 27.4, and 27.1 (kg/m2); 12, 11, 32, and 26 (%), respectively. Despite the absolute difference in levels of BMI and CAC across groups, higher BMI was generally associated with higher prevalent CAC in each group. After adjusting for age, smoking, alcohol, hypertension, lipids, and diabetes mellitus, the BMI was positively and independently associated with prevalent CAC in JJ, KN, UW, but not in JA.
In this multi-ethnic study, obesity was independently associated with subclinical stage of coronary atherosclerosis among men aged 40–49 years regardless of the BMI level.
Coronary artery calcium; Obesity; Body mass index; Multi-ethnic; Men; Risk factors
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
By examining the distribution of CAC across FRS strata in a large, multi-ethnic, community-based sample of men and women, we sought to determine if lower risk persons could potentially benefit from CAC screening.
The 10-year Framingham risk scores (FRS) and coronary artery calcium (CAC) are predictors of coronary heart disease (CHD). CAC ≥300 is associated with the highest risk for CHD even in low risk (FRS <10%) persons; however expert groups have suggested CAC screening only in intermediate risk (FRS 10–20%) groups.
We included 5660 MESA participants. The number needed to screen [number of people that need to be screened to detect one person with CAC above the specified cut-point (NNS)] was used to assess the yield of screening for CAC. CAC prevalence was compared across FRS strata using chi-square tests.
CAC >0, ≥100 and ≥300 were present in 46.4%, 20.6% and 10.1% of participants, respectively. Prevalence and amount of CAC increased with higher FRS. CAC ≥300 was observed in 1.7% and 4.4% of those with FRS 0–2.5% and 2.6–5%, respectively (NNS =59.7 and 22.7). Likewise, CAC ≥300 was observed in 24% and 30% of those with FRS 15.1–20% and >20%, respectively (NNS =4.2 and 3.3). Trends were similar when stratified by age, gender and race/ethnicity.
Our study suggests that in very low risk individuals (FRS ≤5%), the yield of screening and probability of identifying persons with clinically significant levels of CAC is low, but becomes greater in low and intermediate risk persons (FRS 5.1–20%).
Framingham risk score; coronary calcium; coronary heart disease; number needed to screen; risk factors; population; atherosclerosis; low risk
Risk markers including coronary artery calcium (CAC), carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT), ankle-brachial Index (ABI), brachial flow-mediated dilation (FMD), high sensitivity C -reactive protein (hs-CRP) and family history (FH) of coronary heart disease (CHD) have been reported to improve on the Framingham risk score (FRS) for prediction of CHD. However, there are no direct comparisons of these markers for risk prediction in a single cohort.
We compared improvement in prediction of incident CHD/cardiovascular disease (CVD) of these 6 risk markers within intermediate risk participants (5 % < FRS < 20%) in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA).
Design, Setting and Participants
Of 6814 MESA participants from 6 US field centers, 1330 were intermediate risk, without diabetes mellitus, and had complete data on all 6 markers. Recruitment spanned July 2000 to September 2002; follow-up extended through May 2011. Probability- weighted Cox proportional hazard models were used to estimate hazard ratios (HR). Area under the receiver operator characteristic curve (AUC) and net reclassification improvement (NRI) were used to compare incremental contributions of each marker when added to the FRS + race/ethnicity.
Main Outcome Measures
Incident CHD defined as MI, angina followed by revascularization, resuscitated cardiac arrest or CHD death. Incident CVD additionally included stroke or CVD death.
After median follow-up of 7.6 years (IQR 7.3 – 7.8 years), 94 CHD and 123 CVD events occurred. CAC, ABI, hs-CRP and FH were independently associated with incident CHD in multivariable analyses [HR (95%CI: 2.60(1.94-3.50), 0.79(0.66-0.95), 1.28(1.00-1.64) and 2.18(1.38-3.42) respectively]. CIMT and FMD were not associated with incident CHD in multivariable analyses [HR (95%CI) 1.17(0.95- 1.45) and 0.95(0.78 −1.14) respectively]. Although the addition of the markers individually to the FRS +race/ethnicity improved the AUC, CAC afforded the highest increment (0.623 vs. 0.784) while FMD afforded the least [0.623 vs. 0.639]. For incident CHD, the NRI with CAC was 0.659, FMD 0.024, ABI 0.036, CIMT 0.102, FH 0.160 and hs-CRP 0.079. Similar results were obtained for incident CVD.
CAC, ABI, hs-CRP and FH are independent predictors of incident CHD/CVD in intermediate risk individuals. CAC provides superior discrimination and risk reclassification compared with other risk markers.
Cigarette smoking is a risk factor of coronary heart disease (CHD). Vascular calcification such as coronary artery calcium (CAC) and aortic calcium (AC) is associated with CHD. We hypothesized that cigarette smoking is associated with coronary artery and aortic calcifications in Japanese and Koreans with high smoking prevalence.
Random samples from populations of 313 Japanese and 302 Korean men aged 40 to 49 were examined for calcification of the coronary artery and aorta using electron beam computed tomography. Coronary artery calcium (CAC) and aortic calcium (AC) were quantified using the Agatston score. We examined the associations of cigarette smoking with CAC and AC after adjusting for conventional risk factors and alcohol consumption. Current and past smokers were combined and categorized into two groups using median pack-years as a cutoff point in each of Japanese and Koreans. The never smoker group was used as a reference for the multiple logistic regression analyses.
The odds ratios of CAC (score ≥10) for smokers with higher pack-years were 2.9 in Japanese (P<0.05) and 1.3 in Koreans (non-significant) compared to never smokers. The odds ratios of AC (score ≥100) for smokers with higher pack-years were 10.4 in Japanese (P<0.05) and 3.6 in Koreans (P<0.05).
Cigarette smoking with higher pack-years is significantly associated with CAC and AC in Japanese men, while cigarette smoking with higher pack-years is significantly associated with AC but not significantly with CAC in Korean men.
atherosclerosis; cigarette smoking; coronary calcium; aortic calcium; Japanese; Koreans
Both American and European guidelines recommend coronary artery calcification (CAC) as a tool for screening asymptomatic individuals at intermediate risk for coronary heart disease (CHD). These recommendations are based on epidemiologic studies mostly in the United States. We review (1) the use of CAC in primary prevention of CHD in the United States, (2) epidemiologic studies of CAC in asymptomatic adults outside of the United States, and (3) international epidemiologic studies of CAC. This review will not consider clinical studies of CAC among patients or symptomatic individuals. US studies have shown that CAC is a strong independent predictor of CHD in both sexes among middle-aged and old age groups, various ethnic groups, and individuals with and without diabetes and that CAC plays an important role in reclassifying individuals from intermediate to high risk. Studies in Europe support these conclusions. The Electron-Beam Tomography, Risk Factor Assessment Among Japanese and US Men in the Post-World-War-II birth cohort (ERA JUMP) Study is the first international study to compare subclinical atherosclerosis, including CAC among Japanese, Japanese Americans, Koreans, and whites. It showed that as compared with whites, Japanese had lower levels of atherosclerosis, whereas Japanese Americans had similar or higher levels. CAC is being increasingly used as a screening tool for asymptomatic individuals in Europe and the United States. CAC is a powerful research tool, because it enables us to describe differences in atherosclerotic burden across populations. Such research could identify factors responsible for differences among populations, which may improve CHD prevention.
coronary artery calcification; primary prevention; coronary calcium score; EBCT; MDCT