Prevalence of silent myocardial ischemia in asymptomatic individuals with subclinical atherosclerosis detected by electron beam tomography
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Electron beam tomography coronary calcium imaging is an evolving technique for the early detection of coronary atherosclerosis, and recent studies have established its prognostic value in asymptomatic individuals. The relationship of coronary artery calcium scores (CAC) to obstructive coronary artery disease (CAD) has been poorly studied but is clinically relevant because it determines which individuals are likely to benefit from revascularization procedures. Hence, we prospectively evaluated the prevalence of myocardial ischemia in asymptomatic patients with cardiovascular risk factors and subclinical atherosclerosis.
Methods and Results
We studied 864 asymptomatic patients with no previous CAD but with cardiovascular risk factors, referred for electron beam tomography coronary calcium imaging to our institution over an 18-month period. From this group, 220 consecutive patients (85% men; mean age, 61 ± 9 years; age range, 31-84 years) with moderate to severe atherosclerotic disease (coronary calcium score ≥100 Agatston units) were prospectively evaluated by technetium 99m sestamibi single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). Patients were followed up (mean follow-up, 14 months) and data regarding their subsequent clinical management recorded. Of the 220 patients, 119 had moderate atherosclerosis (CAC score of 100-400 Agatston units) and 101 had severe atherosclerosis (CAC score ≥400 Agatston units). Abnormal SPECT findings were seen in 18% of patients with moderate atherosclerosis (n =21) and 45% of patients with severe atherosclerosis (n = 45). Increasing severity of atherosclerosis was related to increasing ischemic burden (summed difference score = 1 ± 0.2 for CAC score of 100-400 Agatston units and 3.2 ± 0.5 for CAC score ≥400 Agatston units). In a multivariate linear regression model incorporating risk factors, CAC was the only predictor of silent ischemia.
In comparison to previously published data, we detected a higher prevalence of silent ischemia even in patients with moderate coronary atherosclerosis (18%). This may reflect the differing risk factor profile of our patient population. When coronary calcium screening is used to preselect asymptomatic patients with cardiovascular risk factors for myocardial perfusion imaging, the optimum coronary calcium score threshold will depend on the population prevalence of risk factors and asymptomatic obstructive CAD.
Key WordsCoronary artery disease atherosclerosis electron beam tomography coronary artery calcium score silent myocardial ischemia
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