Multifocal cardiovascular calcification in patients with established cardiovascular disease; prevalence, risk factors, and relation with recurrent cardiovascular disease

Int J Cardiol Heart Vasc. 2020 Mar 17;27:100499. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcha.2020.100499. eCollection 2020 Apr.


Aims: The aim is to investigate (multifocal) cardiovascular calcification in patients with established cardiovascular disease (CVD), regarding prevalence, risk factors, and relation with recurrent CVD or vascular interventions. Coronary artery calcification (CAC), thoracic aortic calcification (TAC) (including ascending aorta, aortic arch, descending aorta), mitral annular calcification (MAC), and aortic valve calcification (AVC) are studied.

Methods: The study concerned 568 patients with established CVD enrolled in the ORACLE cohort. All patients underwent computed tomography. Prevalence of site-specific and multifocal calcification was determined. Ordinal regression analyses were performed to quantify associations of risk factors with cardiovascular calcification, and Cox regression analyses to determine the relation between calcium scores and recurrent CVD or vascular interventions.

Results: Calcification was multifocal in 76% (N = 380) of patients with calcification. Age (per SD) was associated with calcification at all locations (lowest OR 2.17; 99%CI 1.54-3.11 for ascending aorta calcification). Diabetes mellitus and systolic blood pressure were associated with TAC, whereas male sex was a determinant of CAC. TAC and CAC were related to the combined endpoint CVD or vascular intervention (N = 68). In a model with all calcium scores combined, only CAC was related to the combined outcome (HR 1.39; 95%CI 1.15-1.68).

Conclusion: Cardiovascular calcification is generally multifocal in patients with established CVD. Differences in associations between risk factors and calcification at various anatomical locations stress the divergence in pathophysiological pathways. CAC is most strongly related to recurrent CVD or vascular interventions independent of traditional risk factors, and independent of heart valve and thoracic aorta calcification.

Keywords: Multifocal cardiovascular calcification; Patients with established cardiovascular disease; Prevalence; Recurrent cardiovascular disease; Risk factors.