Coronary Artery Calcium Progression Is Associated With Coronary Plaque Volume Progression: Results From a Quantitative Semiautomated Coronary Artery Plaque Analysis

Indre Ceponiene, Rine Nakanishi, Kazuhiro Osawa, Mitsuru Kanisawa, Negin Nezarat, Sina Rahmani, Kendall Kissel, Michael Kim, Eranthi Jayawardena, Alexander Broersen, Pieter Kitslaar, Matthew J. Budoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Objectives: The aim of this study was to determine whether coronary artery calcium (CAC) progression was associated with coronary plaque progression on coronary computed tomographic angiography. Background: CAC progression and coronary plaque characteristics are associated with incident coronary heart disease. However, natural history of coronary atherosclerosis has not been well described to date, and the understanding of the association between CAC progression and coronary plaque subtypes such as noncalcified plaque progression remains unclear. Methods: Consecutive patients who were referred to our clinic for evaluation and had serial coronary computed tomography angiography scans performed were included in the study. Coronary artery plaque (total, fibrous, fibrous-fatty, low-attenuation, densely calcified) volumes were calculated using semiautomated plaque analysis software. Results: A total of 211 patients (61.3 ± 12.7 years of age, 75.4% men) were included in the analysis. The mean interval between baseline and follow-up scans was 3.3 ± 1.7 years. CAC progression was associated with a significant linear increase in all types of coronary plaque and no plaque progression was observed in subjects without CAC progression. In multivariate analysis, annualized and normalized total plaque (β = 0.38; p < 0.001), noncalcified plaque (β = 0.35; p = 0.001), fibrous plaque (β = 0.56; p < 0.001), and calcified plaque (β = 0.63; p = 0.001) volume progression, but not fibrous-fatty (β = 0.03; p = 0.28) or low-attenuation plaque (β = 0.11; p = 0.1) progression, were independently associated with CAC progression. Plaque progression did not differ between the sexes. A significantly increased total and calcified plaque progression was observed in statin users. Conclusions: In a clinical practice setting, progression of CAC was significantly associated with an increase in both calcified and noncalcified plaque volume, except fibrous-fatty and low-attenuation plaque. Serial CAC measurements may be helpful in determining the need for intensification of preventive treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1785-1794
Number of pages10
JournalJACC: Cardiovascular Imaging
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • coronary artery calcium progression
  • coronary computed tomography angiography
  • plaque progression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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