Aortic valve calcium independently predicts coronary and cardiovascular events in a primary prevention population

JACC Cardiovasc Imaging. 2012 Jun;5(6):619-25. doi: 10.1016/j.jcmg.2011.12.023.


Objectives: This study sought to test whether aortic valve calcium (AVC) is independently associated with coronary and cardiovascular events in a primary-prevention population.

Background: Aortic sclerosis is associated with increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality among the elderly, but the mechanisms underlying this association remain controversial. Also, it is unknown whether this association extends to younger individuals.

Methods: We performed a prospective analysis of 6,685 participants in MESA (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis). All subjects, ages 45 to 84 years and free of clinical cardiovascular disease at baseline, underwent computed tomography for AVC and coronary artery calcium scoring. The primary, pre-specified combined endpoint of cardiovascular events included myocardial infarctions, fatal and nonfatal strokes, resuscitated cardiac arrest, and cardiovascular death, whereas a secondary combined endpoint of coronary events excluded strokes. The association between AVC and clinical events was assessed using Cox proportional hazards regression with incremental adjustments for demographics, cardiovascular risk factors, inflammatory biomarkers, and subclinical coronary atherosclerosis.

Results: Over a median follow-up of 5.8 years (interquartile range: 5.6 to 5.9 years), adjusting for demographics and cardiovascular risk factors, subjects with AVC (n = 894, 13.4%) had higher risks of cardiovascular (hazard ratio [HR]: 1.50; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.10 to 2.03) and coronary (HR: 1.72; 95% CI: 1.19 to 2.49) events compared with those without AVC. Adjustments for inflammatory biomarkers did not alter these associations, but adjustment for coronary artery calcium substantially attenuated both cardiovascular (HR: 1.32; 95% CI: 0.98 to 1.78) and coronary (HR: 1.41; 95% CI: 0.98 to 2.02) event risk. AVC remained predictive of cardiovascular mortality even after full adjustment (HR: 2.51; 95% CI: 1.22 to 5.21).

Conclusions: In this MESA cohort, free of clinical cardiovascular disease, AVC predicts cardiovascular and coronary event risk independent of traditional risk factors and inflammatory biomarkers, likely due to the strong correlation between AVC and subclinical atherosclerosis. The association of AVC with excess cardiovascular mortality beyond coronary atherosclerosis risk merits further investigation. (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis [MESA]; NCT00005487).

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aortic Valve / diagnostic imaging
  • Aortic Valve / pathology*
  • Calcinosis / diagnosis
  • Calcinosis / epidemiology*
  • Calcinosis / mortality
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Coronary Artery Disease / epidemiology*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / mortality
  • Coronary Artery Disease / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Heart Valve Diseases / diagnosis
  • Heart Valve Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Heart Valve Diseases / mortality
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multidetector Computed Tomography
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Primary Prevention*
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Sclerosis
  • Time Factors
  • United States / epidemiology

Associated data