Rates of progression of coronary calcium by electron beam tomography

Am J Cardiol. 2000 Jul 1;86(1):8-11. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9149(00)00820-1.


In this study, we sought to determine the rate of progression of atherosclerosis using coronary calcium scores derived from electron beam tomography (EBT). We studied a variety of disease states (hypertension, high cholesterol, tobacco use, diabetes mellitus) followed for 1 to 6.5 years. We evaluated 299 asymptomatic persons (227 men and 72 women) who underwent 2 consecutive EBT scans at least 12 months apart. The average change in the calcium score (Agatston method) for the entire group was 33.2 +/- 9.2%/year. The treated group (receiving statins) demonstrated an average increase in calcium scores of 15 +/- 8%/year compared with 39 +/- 12%/year for untreated patients (p <0.001). Among the 60 patients on statin monotherapy, 37% had a decrease in the calcium score from baseline to follow-up scan. The relative increase in calcium scores did not vary significantly by gender or risk factors, with the exception of statin-treated hypercholesterolemic subjects. Scores of zero on the initial scan portend a low likelihood of significant calcific deposits on repeat scanning. Only 2 of 81 participants (2%) with scores of zero at baseline had scores >10 on repeat study. In this study, statin therapy induced a 61% reduction in the rate of coronary calcium progression. This study demonstrates that EBT may be a useful tool in assessing efficacy of different interventions to retard progression of atherosclerosis, noninvasively, over relatively short time periods.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Calcinosis / diagnostic imaging*
  • Calcinosis / drug therapy
  • Calcinosis / physiopathology
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Coronary Angiography*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / diagnostic imaging*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / drug therapy
  • Coronary Artery Disease / physiopathology
  • Coronary Vessels / drug effects
  • Coronary Vessels / physiopathology
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Hypercholesterolemia / drug therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*


  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors
  • Cholesterol