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Hypertension attenuates the prognostic value of coronary artery calcification scoring in low-risk patients



Objectives

In outpatients with suspected ischaemic symptoms, we investigated the impact of risk factor profile on the prognostic value of coronary artery calcium scoring (CACS) and CT coronary angiography (CTCA).

Methods

772 consecutive patients underwent CACS and CTCA; 52 patients (6.7%) with significant coronary artery lesions underwent revascularisation within 60 days and were excluded. 720 remaining patients were followed up for 38.1±17.4 months.

Results

Late presentation (after 60 days) major adverse cardiovascular events (MACEs) were recorded in 27 patients (3.8%). Hypertension was strongly associated with adverse outcomes (unadjusted HR 6.5 (2.9 to 14), p<0.001), and hypertensive patients had double the prevalence of non-calcified plaque versus normotensive individuals (30.2% vs 14.3%, p<0.001). Adjusting for confounders, severe stenosis at CTCA was predictive of MACE for normotensive and hypertensive patients (HR 9.6 (2.8 to 43.1), p<0.001, and HR 6.2 (2.4 to 16.1), p<0.001, respectively). CACS alone was not predictive of MACE throughout the cohort (HR 1.001 (0.9997 to 1.001), p=0.36) and when adjusting for confounders, a cut-off of CACS>400 predicted MACE in normotensive individuals (HR 10.6 (2.41 to 49.3), p<0.001) but not in hypertensive individuals (HR 1.3 (0.5 to 3.6), p=0.56). Zero calcium score did not mitigate the risk of MACE (HR 0.84 (0.39 to 1.8), p=0.65) and 13/27 patients (48.1%) who suffered MACE had a 0 calcium score; all had hypertension.

Conclusions

In low-risk patients with stable cardiovascular symptoms, CTCA provides important additive prognostic information over CACS, and CACS (including CACS>400) underestimated cardiovascular risk in patients with hypertension. This may relate to the increased prevalence of non-calcified plaque in these individuals.

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