Relation of coronary vasoreactivity and coronary calcification in asymptomatic subjects with a family history of premature coronary artery disease

  • Christian Pirich
  • Alexander Leber
  • Andreas Knez
  • Frank M. Bengel
  • Stephan G. Nekolla
  • Ralph Haberl
  • Markus Schwaiger
Original Article


Electron-beam computed tomography (EBCT) allows non-invasive imaging of coronary calcification and has been promoted as a screening tool for coronary artery disease (CAD) in asymptomatic high-risk subjects. This study assessed the relation of coronary calcifications to alterations in coronary vascular reactivity by means of positron emission tomography (PET) in asymptomatic subjects with a familial history of premature CAD. Twenty-one subjects (mean age 51±10 years) underwent EBCT imaging for coronary calcifications expressed as the coronary calcium score (CCS according to Agatston) and rest/adenosine-stress nitrogen-13 ammonia PET with quantification of myocardial blood flow (MBF) and coronary flow reserve (CFR). The mean CCS was 237±256 (median 146, range 0–915). The CCS was <100 in eight subjects and >100 units in 13. As defined by age-related thresholds, 15 subjects had an increased CCS (>75th percentile). Overall mean resting and stress MBF and CFR were 71±16 ml 100 g−1 min−1, 218±54 ml 100 g−1 min−1 and 3.20±0.77, respectively. Three subjects with CCS ranging from 114 to 451 units had an abnormal CFR (<2.5). There was no relation between CCS and resting or stress MBF or CFR (r=0.17, 0.18 and 0.10, respectively). In asymptomatic subjects a pathological CCS was five times more prevalent than an abnormal CFR. The absence of any close relationship between CCS and CFR reflects the fact that quantitative myocardial perfusion imaging with PET characterises the dynamic process of vascular reactivity while EBCT is a measure of more stable calcified lesions in the arterial wall whose presence is closely related to age.


Coronary calcification Electron beam computed tomography Positron emission tomography Coronary flow reserve 



The research fellowship of Christian Pirich at the Nuklearmedizinische Klinik und Poliklinik der Technischen Universität München was supported by a grant from the Van Swieten foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christian Pirich
    • 1
    • 4
  • Alexander Leber
    • 2
  • Andreas Knez
    • 2
  • Frank M. Bengel
    • 1
  • Stephan G. Nekolla
    • 1
  • Ralph Haberl
    • 3
  • Markus Schwaiger
    • 1
  1. 1.Nuklearmedizinische Klinik und Poliklinik der Technischen Universität MünchenGermany
  2. 2.Medizinische Klinik IKlinikum GrosshadernMünchenGermany
  3. 3.Medical Hospital IUniversity of MunichMünchen PasingGermany
  4. 4.Department of Nuclear MedicineVienna University HospitalViennaAustria

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