Objectives: Coronary artery calcification (CAC) determined by electron beam computed tomography is a predictor of future cardiovascular events. This study investigates conditions affecting CAC severity in patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) undergoing coronary angiography.
Methods: Presence and degree of CAC were assessed angiographically in 877 CAD patients grouped into no visible CAC (n = 333), mild to moderate CAC (n = 321), and severe CAC (n = 223). Regression analyses investigated relationships between CAC and demographic data, cardiovascular risk factors, and coronary anatomy.
Results: Prevalences of hypertension and systolic blood pressure (SBP) values were higher in individuals with CAC (moderate CAC: 49.5%, 137.5 +/- 18.6 mmHg; severe CAC: 58.3%, 142.1 +/- 20.4 mmHg) compared to individuals with CAD but no CAC (42.0%, 134.0 +/- 18.4 mmHg; both P < 0.001). Likewise, pulse pressure was significantly elevated with increasing degree of CAC (no CAC, 52.3 +/- 13.6 mmHg vs moderate CAC, 55.7 +/- 14.4 mmHg vs severe CAC, 59.1 +/- 15.4 mmHg; P < 0.001). Further determinants of CAC were age, positive family history for CAC and severity of CAD. No differences in CAC severity were found in relation to body mass index, low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol, diabetes, and smoking habits. In multivariate analysis, CAC was independently related to age, SBP or pulse pressure, respectively, positive family history for CAC, and the severity of CAD.
Conclusions: Of the cardiovascular risk factors, SBP and pulse pressure display the strongest relationship with angiographic detection of CAC. Mechanistic studies need to clarify whether hypertension causes CAC, or whether coronary calcium deposition serves as a marker for a higher degree of vascular calcification and, thus, impaired vascular compliance and higher blood pressure levels.