International Journal of Molecular Sciences (Mar 2015)

Coronary Artery Calcium Screening: Does it Perform Better than Other Cardiovascular Risk Stratification Tools?

  • Irfan Zeb,
  • Matthew Budoff

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 16, no. 3
pp. 6606 – 6620


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Coronary artery calcium (CAC) has been advocated as one of the strongest cardiovascular risk prediction markers. It performs better across a wide range of Framingham risk categories (6%–10% and 10%–20% 10-year risk categories) and also helps in reclassifying the risk of these subjects into either higher or lower risk categories based on CAC scores. It also performs better among population subgroups where Framingham risk score does not perform well, especially young subjects, women, family history of premature coronary artery disease and ethnic differences in coronary risk. The absence of CAC is also associated with excellent prognosis, with 10-year event rate of 1%. Studies have also compared with other commonly used markers of cardiovascular disease risk such as Carotid intima-media thickness and highly sensitive C-reactive protein. CAC also performs better compared with carotid intima-media thickness and highly sensitive C-reactive protein in prediction of coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease events. CAC scans are associated with relatively low radiation exposure (0.9–1.1 mSv) and provide information that can be used not only for risk stratification but also can be used to track the progression of atherosclerosis and the effects of statins.