Aims: To determine if coronary artery calcium (CAC) scoring is independently predictive of mortality in young adults and in the elderly population and if a young person with high CAC has a higher mortality risk than an older person with less CAC.
Methods and results: We studied a cohort of 44 052 asymptomatic patients referred for CAC scans for cardiovascular risk stratification. All-cause mortality rates (MRs) were calculated after stratifying by age groups (<45, 45-54, 55-64, 65-74, and ≥75) and CAC score (0, 1-100, 100-400, and >400). Multivariable Cox regression models were constructed to assess the independent value of CAC for predicting all-cause mortality in the <45- and ≥75-year-old age groups. The MR increased in both the <45- and ≥75-year-old age groups with an increasing CAC group. After multivariable adjustment, increasing CAC remained independently predictive of increased mortality compared with CAC = 0 [<45 age group, hazard ratio (95% confidence interval): CAC = 1-100, 2.3 (1.2-4.2); CAC = 100-400, 7.4 (3.3-16.6); CAC > 400, 34.6 (15.5-77.4); ≥75 age group: CAC = 1-100, 7.0 (2.4-20.8); CAC = 100-400, 9.2 (3.2-26.5); CAC > 400, 16.1 (5.8-45.1)]. Persons <45 years old with CAC = 100-400 and CAC > 400 had 2- and 10-fold increased MRs, respectively, compared with persons ≥75 with no CAC. Individuals ≥75 years old with CAC = 0 had a 5.6-year survival rate of 98%, similar to those in other age groups with CAC = 0 (5.6-year survival, 99%).
Conclusion: The value of CAC for predicting mortality extends to both elderly patients and those <45 years old. Elderly persons with no CAC have a lower MR than younger persons with high CAC.