Purpose: To determine the predictive value of coronary calcifications for coronary heart disease events in high-risk, asymptomatic adults:
Patients and methods: A prospective cohort study of 1,461 high-risk, asymptomatic subjects were followed for 55 months with a 98% success rate. Coronary risk factor assessment and cardiac fluoroscopy with digital subtraction enhancement were performed to determine the number of calcified coronary arteries.
Results: Fifty-eight percent of this cohort (852 subjects) had fluoroscopically detectable coronary calcification: 437 (30%) had calcium in one, 253 (17%) in two, and 162 (11%) in all three coronary vessels. There were 90 (6%) deaths, 35 (39%) attributable to coronary heart disease, and 43 (3%) nonfatal myocardial infarctions. Subjects with calcification in more than one major coronary artery were 2.2 times more likely to suffer coronary death or nonfatal infarction (P = 0.001) than were subjects with one or no calcified arteries. Multivariable logistic regression analysis showed that only the number of calcified arteries, age, total cholesterol, history of diabetes, and left ventricular hypertrophy by electrocardiogram were associated independently with the incidence of coronary death or infarction in these subjects.
Conclusions: Coronary calcification predicts coronary heart disease death or infarction in high-risk asymptomatic adults as well as do standard risk factors.