Clinical and Coronary Plaque Predictors of Atherosclerotic Nonresponse to Statin Therapy

JACC Cardiovasc Imaging. 2022 Nov 23;S1936-878X(22)00655-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jcmg.2022.10.017. Online ahead of print.


Background: Statins reduce the incidence of major cardiovascular events, but residual risk remains. The study examined the determinants of atherosclerotic statin nonresponse.

Objectives: This study aimed to investigate factors associated with statin nonresponse-defined atherosclerosis progression in patients treated with statins.

Methods: The multicenter PARADIGM (Progression of AtheRosclerotic PlAque DetermIned by Computed TomoGraphic Angiography Imaging) registry included patients who underwent serial coronary computed tomography angiography ≥2 years apart, with whole-heart coronary tree quantification of vessel, lumen, and plaque, and matching of baseline and follow-up coronary segments and lesions. Patients with statin use at baseline and follow-up coronary computed tomography angiography were included. Atherosclerotic statin nonresponse was defined as an absolute increase in percent atheroma volume (PAV) of 1.0% or more per year. Furthermore, a secondary endpoint was defined by the additional requirement of progression of low-attenuation plaque or fibro-fatty plaque.

Results: We included 649 patients (age 62.0 ± 9.0 years, 63.5% male) on statin therapy and 205 (31.5%) experienced atherosclerotic statin nonresponse. Age, diabetes, hypertension, and all atherosclerotic plaque features measured at baseline scan (high-risk plaque [HRP] features, calcified and noncalcified PAV, and lumen volume) were significantly different between patients with and without atherosclerotic statin nonresponse, whereas only diabetes, number of HRP features, and noncalcified and calcified PAV were independently associated with atherosclerotic statin nonresponse (odds ratio [OR]: 1.41 [95% CI: 0.95-2.11], OR: 1.15 [95% CI: 1.09-1.21], OR: 1.06 [95% CI: 1.02-1.10], OR: 1.07 [95% CI: 1.03-1.12], respectively). For the secondary endpoint (N = 125, 19.2%), only noncalcified PAV and number of HRP features were the independent determinants (OR: 1.08 [95% CI: 1.03-1.13] and OR: 1.21 [95% CI: 1.06-1.21], respectively).

Conclusions: In patients treated with statins, baseline plaque characterization by plaque burden and HRP is associated with atherosclerotic statin nonresponse. Patients with the highest plaque burden including HRP were at highest risk for plaque progression, despite statin therapy. These patients may need additional therapies for further risk reduction.

Keywords: atherosclerosis; coronary computed tomography angiography; plaque progression; statin nonresponse.