Relationship of Coronary Calcium on Standard Chest CT Scans With Mortality

OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to determine the correlation between coronary artery calcium (CAC) scores on 3 mm electrocardiography (ECG)-gated computed tomography (CT) scans and standard 6 mm chest CT scans, and to compare relative strength of associations of CAC on each scan type with mortality risk. Coronary artery calcification predicts cardiovascular disease (CVD) and all-cause mortality, and is typically measured on ECG-gated 3 mm CT scans. Patients undergo standard 6 mm chest CTs for various clinical indications much more frequently, but CAC is not usually quantified. To better understand the usefulness of standard chest CTs to quantify CAC, we conducted a case-control study among persons who had both scan types.

METHODS:  Between 2000 and 2003, 4,544 community-living individuals self- or physician-referred for “whole-body” CT scans, had 3 mm ECG-gated CTs and standard 6 mm chest CTs, and were followed for mortality through 2009. In this nested case-control study, we identified 157 deaths and 494 controls frequency matched (1:3) on age and sex. The Agatston method quantified CAC on both scan types. Unconditional logistic regression determined associations with mortality, accounting for CVD risk factors.

RESULTS:  Participants were 68 ± 11 years old and 63% male. The Spearman correlation of CAC scores between the 2 scan types was 0.93 (p < 0.001); median CAC scores were lower on 6 mm CTs compared to 3 mm CTs (22 vs.104 Agatston units, p < 0.001). Adjusted for traditional CVD risk factors, each standard deviation higher CAC score on 6 mm CTs was associated with 50% higher odds of death (odds ratio: 1.5; 95% confidence interval: 1.2 to 1.9), similar to 50% higher odds on the 3 mm ECG-gated CTs (odds ratio: 1.5; 95% confidence interval: 1.1 to 1.9).

CONCLUSIONS:  CAC scores on standard 6 mm chest CTs are strongly correlated with 3 mm ECG-gated CTs and similarly predict mortality in community-living individuals. Chest CTs performed for other clinical indications may provide an untapped resource to garner CVD risk information without additional radiation exposure or expense. Ray-Ray Armstrong Womens Jersey


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