Systematic Coronary Risk Evaluation estimated risk and prevalent subclinical atherosclerosis in coronary and carotid arteries: A population-based cohort analysis from the Swedish Cardiopulmonary Bioimage Study

Eur J Prev Cardiol. 2020 Mar 3;2047487320909300. doi: 10.1177/2047487320909300. Online ahead of print.


Background: It is not clear if the European Systematic Coronary Risk Evaluation algorithm is useful for identifying prevalent subclinical atherosclerosis in a population of apparently healthy individuals. Our aim was to explore the association between the risk estimates from Systematic Coronary Risk Evaluation and prevalent subclinical atherosclerosis.

Design: The design of this study was as a cross-sectional analysis from a population-based study cohort.

Methods: From the general population, the Swedish Cardiopulmonary Bioimage Study randomly invited individuals aged 50-64 years and enrolled 13,411 participants mean age 57 (standard deviation 4.3) years; 46% males between November 2013-December 2016. Associations between Systematic Coronary Risk Evaluation risk estimates and coronary artery calcification and plaques in the carotid arteries by using imaging data from a computed tomography of the heart and ultrasonography of the carotid arteries were examined.

Results: Coronary calcification was present in 39.5% and carotid plaque in 56.0%. In men, coronary artery calcium score >0 ranged from 40.7-65.9% and presence of carotid plaques from 54.5% to 72.8% in the age group 50-54 and 60-65 years, respectively. In women, the corresponding difference was from 17.1-38.9% and from 41.0-58.4%. A doubling of Systematic Coronary Risk Evaluation was associated with an increased probability to have coronary artery calcium score >0 (odds ratio: 2.18 (95% confidence interval 2.07-2.30)) and to have >1 carotid plaques (1.67 (1.61-1.74)).

Conclusion: Systematic Coronary Risk Evaluation estimated risk is associated with prevalent subclinical atherosclerosis in two major vascular beds in a general population sample without established cardiovascular disease or diabetes mellitus. Thus, the Systematic Coronary Risk Evaluation risk chart may be of use for estimating the risk of subclinical atherosclerosis.

Keywords: Systematic Coronary Risk Evaluation; atherosclerosis; estimated risk; population; subclinical.