Coronary Artery Calcium Scoring in Young Adults: Evidence and Challenges

Curr Cardiol Rep. 2018 Feb 12;20(2):10. doi: 10.1007/s11886-018-0951-5.


Purpose of review: This review aims to summarize the evidence and challenges of coronary artery calcium (CAC) scoring as a screening tool for coronary artery disease (CAD) in young adults.

Recent findings: Several cohort studies have highlighted the value of CAC scoring in CAD risk assessment in young adults. The largest study to date is the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study. The study examined patients at 18-30 years of age and demonstrated that the presence of any degree of CAC was associated with a higher risk of coronary events compared to zero CAC, with an incremental increase in the risk of events with higher scores. However, it is important to note that 70% of patients screened had CAC = 0 at the age of 56. Despite the evidence that higher CAC score cutoff used in guidelines for predicting cardiovascular risk may be "falsely reassuring," however, mass screening of young adults using CAC score may be challenging. The development of prediction tools and scoring systems to identify patients at higher risk of developing CAC based on known CAD risk factors may help reduce the number needed to screen to detect patients with positive CAC.

Keywords: Age; Calcium score; Coronary; Review; Young adults.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Coronary Angiography
  • Coronary Artery Disease / diagnostic imaging*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / epidemiology
  • Coronary Vessels / diagnostic imaging*
  • Decision Support Techniques*
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Vascular Calcification / diagnostic imaging*
  • Vascular Calcification / epidemiology
  • Young Adult