Objectives: This study sought to determine the relationship between coronary calcification and plaque progression in response to established medical therapies. Background: Coronary calcification correlates with the extent of atherosclerosis and predicts clinical outcome. Methods: Atheroma volume was determined in serial intravascular ultrasound pullbacks in matched arterial segments of 776 patients with angiographic coronary artery disease. A calcium grade at baseline was assigned for each image (total 28,876) (0 = no calcium, 1 = calcium with acoustic shadowing <90° and 2 = calcium with shadowing >90°). Patients with a calcium index (average of calcium scores in a pullback) below versus above the median were compared with regard to plaque burden and progression. Results: Patients with a high calcium index were older (59 vs. 54 years, p < 0.001), more likely to be male (80% vs. 68%, p < 0.001), and more likely to have a history of hypertension (71% vs. 64%, p = 0.03). These patients had a greater percentage atheroma volume (PAV) (45% vs. 34%, p < 0.001), total atheroma volume (TAV) (210 vs. 151 mm3, p < 0.001), and percentage of images with maximal plaque thickness >0.5 mm (93% vs. 72%, p < 0.001). The continuous rate of change in PAV (1.1 ± 0.4% vs. 0.8 ± 0.4%, p = 0.34) and TAV (1.7 ± 2.1% vs. -0.1 ± 2.2%, p = 0.37) was similar in patients with a lower and higher calcium index, respectively. A lower calcium index was associated with a higher rate of patients showing substantial change in atheroma burden (at least 5% change in PAV, 70% vs. 53%, p < 0.001). Conclusions: Calcific plaques are more resistant to undergoing changes in size in response to systemic interventions targeting atherosclerotic risk factors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine