OBJECTIVES: The MESA (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis) is a population-based study of 6,814 men and women. We sought to analyze the relationship between the extent of coronary artery calcium (CAC) at baseline and the severity of coronary stenoses in clinically indicated coronary angiography studies during follow-up. Background: CAC is an established predictor of major cardiovascular events. Yet, the relationship between CAC and the distribution and severity of coronary artery stenoses has not been widely explored.
METHODS: All MESA participants underwent noncontrast enhanced cardiac computed tomography during enrollment to determine baseline CAC. We analyzed 175 consecutive angiography reports from participants who underwent coronary catheterization for clinical indications during a median follow-up period of 18 months. The relationship between baseline CAC and the severity of coronary stenosis detected in coronary angiographies was determined.
RESULTS: Baseline Agatston score was 0 in only 7 of 175 (4%) MESA participants who underwent invasive angiography during follow-up. When coronary arteries were studied separately, 13% to 18% of coronary arteries with >75% stenosis hadÂ 0 calcium mass scores at baseline. There was close association between baseline calcium mass score and the severity of stenosis in each of the coronary arteries (test for trend, p < 0.001). For example, mean calcium mass scores for <50%, 50% to 74%, and >75% stenosis in the left anterior descending coronary artery were 105.1 mg, 157.2 mg, and 302.2 mg, respectively (p < 0.001). Finally, there was a direct relationship between the total Agatston Score at baseline and the number of diseased vessels (test for trend, p < 0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: The majority of patients with clinically indicated coronary angiography during follow-up had detectable coronary calcification at baseline. Although there is a significant relationship between the extent of calcification and mean degree of stenosis in individual coronary vessels, 16% of the coronary arteries with significant stenoses had no calcification at baseline.