Coronary atherosclerosis evaluation among Iranian patients with zero coronary calcium score in computed tomography coronary angiography


Department of Radiology, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran


Background: Coronary artery calcification (CAC) is a specific indicator of and a sensitive marker for the atherosclerotic disease process. However, calcium scoring may miss noncalcified plaques with clinical importance. The present study aimed to identify the presence and extent of coronary plaques in computed tomography coronary angiography (CTCA) in patients with a zero CAC score and the secondary endpoint was to evaluate the association between coronary risk factors and the presence of noncalcified plaques.
Materials and Methods: In a retrospective descriptive-analytic study, a total of 2000 consecutive patients who undergone CTCA between September 2012 and September 2014 at Alzahra Hospital in Isfahan, Iran were analyzed. Three hundred and eighty-five patients with a zero calcium score were included in the study. The demographic information and coronary artery disease (CAD), risk factors including diabetes mellitus (DM), hypertension, hyperlipidemia, smoking, and family history of CAD, were obtained from the questionnaire. Furthermore, the presence of plaques and extent of stenosis were evaluated in patients with zero CAC score.
Results: Of the 385 patients with a zero calcium score, 16 (4.2%) had atherosclerotic plaques. Among them, 6 (1.6%) had significant (>50%) coronary stenosis, and 10 (2.6%) had no significant (<50%) coronary stenosis. Hyperlipidemia, DM, and smoking were significantly associated with obstructive CAD. Furthermore, in patients with zero calcium score, DM, hyperlipidemia, and smoking had odds ratios of 5.9, 14, and 32.5 for the development of coronary artery plaques, respectively.
Conclusion: Although, CAC scoring is a noninvasive and valuable method to evaluate CAD; but zero CAC score does not absolutely exclude the CAD, especially in the presence of risk factors such as diabetes, hyperlipidemia, and smoking.


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