Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease events among statin eligible individuals with and without long-term healthy arterial aging

Atherosclerosis. 2021 Jun;326:56-62. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2021.03.018. Epub 2021 Mar 26.


Background and aims: A large proportion of statin eligible candidates have a baseline absence of coronary artery calcium (CAC) and low 10-year atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) risk. We sought to determine the proportion of statin eligible individuals who had long-term healthy arterial aging (persistent CAC = 0) and their examined 15-year ASCVD outcomes.

Methods: We included 561 statin eligible candidates from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis who were not on statin therapy with CAC = 0 at Visit 1 (2000-02) and underwent a subsequent CAC scan at Visit 5 (2010-11). Adjusted Cox proportional hazards regression assessed the association between persistent CAC = 0 and ASCVD events over 15.9 years.

Results: Participants were on average 61.7 years old, 50% were women, and 43% maintained long-term CAC = 0. Individuals with an LDL-C ≥190 mg/dL (54%) and those with an ASCVD risk ≥20% (33%) had the highest and lowest proportion of persistent CAC = 0, respectively. There were 57 ASCVD events, and 15-year ASCVD event rates were low for individuals with and without healthy arterial aging (4.3 versus 8.6 per 1,000 persons-years), but the 10-year number needed to treat to prevent one ASCVD event differed by more than two fold (117 versus 54). In multivariable modeling, persistent CAC = 0 conferred a 51% lower risk of ASCVD compared to those with incident CAC (HR = 0.49, 95% CI: 0.27-0.90, p=0.02).

Conclusions: More than 40% of statin eligible individuals with baseline CAC = 0 had long-term healthy arterial aging. Statin eligible candidates with persistent CAC = 0 had a very low 15-year ASCVD risk, suggesting that statin therapy may be of limited benefit among this group of individuals.

Keywords: Aging; Cardiovascular diseases; Coronary artery calcium; Multidetector computed tomography; Prevention; Statins.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Atherosclerosis*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases*
  • Coronary Artery Disease*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors*
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Vascular Calcification*


  • Hydroxymethylglutaryl-CoA Reductase Inhibitors