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Utilizing coronary artery calcium to guide statin use.


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death worldwide, and accounts for over 30% of annual global fatality. Coronary artery calcium (CAC) screening, a highly distinct marker of coronary atherosclerosis, serves as an important arbitrator of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD). Particularly in asymptomatic individuals, CAC testing offers a model for initiating or prolonging preventative statin therapies and subsequently up- or down-risking of patients. Though recent 2018 ACC/AHA Guidelines on Blood Cholesterol recommend CAC as an arbitrator of statin use, it remains uncertain whether these recommendations have been universally followed. Thus, we present a thorough discussion about CAC as an important determinator of ASCVD risk. In this regard we highlight the key points behind coronary artery calcium scoring, as a critical platform for stratifying risk and guiding future preventative treatments. This review paper supplies a background for the 2018 Cholesterol Guidelines: the rationalization behind CAC as a crucial arbitrator of cardiovascular risk. This paper will first (1) outline the role of CAC in reclassifying ASCVD risk. Next, it will (2) discuss studies that illustrate CAC's markedly novel reduction in the number needed to treat (NNT) to ameliorate one major cardiac event. Being years removed from 2018 Guidelines provides this paper the lens to (3) elucidate upcoming value-based advantages, cost effectiveness, and patient adherence brought by CAC. Last, this paper will also (4) extend the utility of CAC beyond that of the general population, and (5) discuss pertinent limitations brought by CAC score. By summarizing the framework behind recent cholesterol guidelines for ASCVD risk assessment, this review will address the debate of use of CAC for both the clinical setting and preventative therapy applications.

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