Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


UCLA Previously Published Works bannerUCLA

Coronary artery Calcium predicts Cardiovascular events in participants with a low lifetime risk of Cardiovascular disease: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA)



Patients with a low lifetime risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) are not completely free of events over 10 years. We evaluated predictors for CHD among "low lifetime risk" participants in the population-based Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA).


MESA enrolled 6814 men and women aged 45-84 years who were free of baseline cardiovascular disease. Using established criteria of non-diabetic, non-smokers with total cholesterol ≤ 200 mg/dL, systolic BP ≤ 139 mmHg, and diastolic BP ≤ 89 mmHg at baseline, we identified 1391 participants with a low lifetime risk for cardiovascular disease. Baseline covariates were age, gender, ethnicity, HDL-C, C-reactive protein, family history of CHD, carotid intima-media thickness and coronary artery calcium (CAC). We calculated event rates and the number needed to scan (NNS) to identify one participant with CAC>0 and > 100.


Over 10.4 years median follow-up, there were 33 events (2.4%) in participants with low lifetime risk. There were 479 participants (34%) with CAC>0 including 183 (13%) with CAC>100. CAC was present in 25 (76%) participants who experienced an event. In multivariable analyses, only CAC>100 remained predictive of CHD (HR 4.6; 95% CI: 1.6-13.6; p = 0.005). The event rates for CAC = 0, CAC>0 and CAC>100 were 0.9/1,000, 5.7/1,000, and 11.0/1000 person-years, respectively. The NNS to identify one participant with CAC>0 and > 100 were 3 and 7.6, respectively.


While 10-year event rates were low in those with low lifetime risk, CAC was the strongest predictor of incident CHD. Identification of individuals with CAC = 0 and CAC>100 carries significant potential therapeutic implications.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View