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Predictors of Long-Term Healthy Arterial Aging Coronary Artery Calcium Nondevelopment in the MESA Study



This study sought to determine the predictors of healthy arterial aging.


Long-term nondevelopment of coronary artery calcification (persistent CAC = 0) is a marker of healthy arterial aging. The predictors of this phenotype are not known.


We analyzed 1,850 participants from MESA (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis) with baseline CAC = 0 who underwent a follow-up CAC scan at visit 5 (median 9.6 years after baseline). We examined the proportion with persistent CAC = 0 and calculated multivariable relative risks and area under the receiver operating characteristic curve for prediction of this healthy arterial aging phenotype.


We found that 55% of participants (n = 1,000) had persistent CAC = 0, and these individuals were significantly more likely to be younger, female, and have fewer traditional risk factors (RF). Participants with an ASCVD (Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease Risk Score) risk score <2.5% were 53% more likely to have healthy arterial aging than were participants with an ASCVD score ≥7.5%. There was no significant association between the Healthy Lifestyle variables (body mass index, physical activity, Mediterranean diet, and never smoking) and persistent CAC = 0. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve incorporating age, sex, and ethnicity was 0.65, indicating fair to poor discrimination. No single traditional RF or combination of other risk factors increased the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve by more than 0.05.


Whereas participants free of traditional cardiovascular disease RF were significantly more likely to have persistent CAC = 0, there was no single RF or specific low-risk RF phenotype that markedly improved the discrimination of persistent CAC = 0 over demographic variables. Therefore, we conclude that healthy arterial aging may be predominantly influenced by the long-term maintenance of a low cardiovascular disease risk profile or yet to be determined genetic factors rather than the absence of any specific RF cluster identified in late adulthood.

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