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Implications of coronary artery calcium testing on risk stratification for lipid-lowering therapy according to the 2016 European Society of Cardiology recommendations: The MESA study.

  • Author(s): Bittencourt, Marcio S
  • Blankstein, Ron
  • Blaha, Michael J
  • Sandfort, Veit
  • Agatston, Arthur S
  • Budoff, Matthew J
  • Blumenthal, Roger S
  • Krumholz, Harlan M
  • Nasir, Khurram
  • et al.
Abstract

Aims

The European Society of Cardiology (ESC) guideline on cardiovascular risk assessment considers coronary artery calcium a class B indication for risk assessment. We evaluated the degree to which coronary artery calcium can change the recommendation for individuals based on a change in estimated risk.

Methods and results

We stratified 5602 MESA participants according to the ESC recommendation as: no lipid-lowering treatment recommended ( N = 2228), consider lipid-lowering treatment if uncontrolled ( N = 1686), or lipid-lowering treatment recommended ( N = 1688). We evaluated the ability of coronary artery calcium to reclassify cardiovascular risk. Among the selected sample, 54% had coronary artery calcium of zero, 25% had coronary artery calcium of 1-100 and 21% had coronary artery calcium greater than 100. In the lipid-lowering treatment recommended group 31% had coronary artery calcium of zero, while in the lipid-lowering treatment if uncontrolled group about 50% had coronary artery calcium of zero. The cardiovascular mortality rate was 1.7%/10 years in the lipid-lowering treatment if uncontrolled, and 7.0%/10 years in the lipid-lowering treatment recommended group. The absence of coronary artery calcium was associated with 1.4%/10 years in the lipid-lowering treatment if uncontrolled group and 3.0%/10 years in the lipid-lowering treatment recommended group. Compared with coronary artery calcium of zero, any coronary artery calcium was associated with significantly higher cardiovascular mortality in the lipid-lowering treatment recommended group (9.0%/10 years), whereas only coronary artery calcium greater than 100 was significantly associated with a higher cardiovascular mortality in the lipid-lowering treatment if uncontrolled group (3.2%/10 years).

Conclusion

The absence of coronary artery calcium is associated with a low incidence of cardiovascular mortality or coronary heart disease events even in individuals in whom lipid-lowering therapy is recommended. A significant proportion of individuals deemed to be candidates for lipid-lowering therapy might be reclassified to a lower risk group with the use of coronary artery calcium.

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