Fractional Flow Reserve-Negative High-Risk Plaques and Clinical Outcomes After Myocardial Infarction

JAMA Cardiol. 2023 Nov 1;8(11):1013-1021. doi: 10.1001/jamacardio.2023.2910.


Importance: Even after fractional flow reserve (FFR)-guided complete revascularization, patients with myocardial infarction (MI) have high rates of recurrent major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE). These recurrences may be caused by FFR-negative high-risk nonculprit lesions.

Objective: To assess the association between optical coherence tomography (OCT)-identified high-risk plaques of FFR-negative nonculprit lesions and occurrence of MACE in patients with MI.

Design, setting, and participants: PECTUS-obs (Identification of Risk Factors for Acute Coronary Events by OCT After STEMI [ST-segment elevation MI] and NSTEMI [non-STEMI] in Patients With Residual Non-flow Limiting Lesions) is an international, multicenter, prospective, observational cohort study. In patients presenting with MI, OCT was performed on all FFR-negative (FFR > 0.80) nonculprit lesions. A high-risk plaque was defined containing at least 2 of the following prespecified criteria: (1) a lipid arc at least 90°, (2) a fibrous cap thickness less than 65 μm, and (3) either plaque rupture or thrombus presence. Patients were enrolled from December 14, 2018, to September 15, 2020. Data were analyzed from December 2, 2022, to June 28, 2023.

Main outcome and measure: The primary end point of MACE, a composite of all-cause mortality, nonfatal MI, or unplanned revascularization, at 2-year follow-up was compared in patients with and without a high-risk plaque.

Results: A total of 438 patients were enrolled, and OCT findings were analyzable in 420. Among included patients, mean (SD) age was 63 (10) years, 340 (81.0) were men, and STEMI and non-STEMI were equally represented (217 [51.7%] and 203 [48.3%]). A mean (SD) of 1.17 (0.42) nonculprit lesions per patient was imaged. Analysis of OCT images revealed at least 1 high-risk plaque in 143 patients (34.0%). The primary end point occurred in 22 patients (15.4%) with a high-risk plaque and 23 of 277 patients (8.3%) without a high-risk plaque (hazard ratio, 1.93 [95% CI, 1.08-3.47]; P = .02), primarily driven by more unplanned revascularizations in patients with a high-risk plaque (14 of 143 [9.8%] vs 12 of 277 [4.3%]; P = .02).

Conclusions and relevance: Among patients with MI and FFR-negative nonculprit lesions, the presence of a high-risk plaque is associated with a worse clinical outcome, which is mainly driven by a higher number of unplanned revascularizations. In a population with a high recurrent event rate despite physiology-guided complete revascularization, these results call for research on additional pharmacological or focal treatment strategies in patients harboring high-risk plaques.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Fractional Flow Reserve, Myocardial*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction* / epidemiology
  • Percutaneous Coronary Intervention* / methods
  • Plaque, Atherosclerotic* / diagnostic imaging
  • Prospective Studies
  • ST Elevation Myocardial Infarction* / therapy