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Heart. 2009 Aug;95(15):1265-72. doi: 10.1136/hrt.2009.167098. Epub 2009 Apr 29.

Relation between coronary atherosclerotic plaques and traditional risk factors in people with no history of cardiovascular disease undergoing multi-detector computed coronary angiography.

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Division of Cardiology, Fondazione Cardiocentro Ticino, Via Tesserete 48, CH-6900 Lugano, Switzerland.



To prospectively investigate the prevalence of coronary artery plaques (CAP) as detected by computed tomography-based angiography in a large number of consecutive individuals with no history of coronary artery disease (CAD) or acute coronary syndrome; to evaluate whether traditional risk factors are related to prevalence of CAP and to the expected 10-year risk of first major or fatal cardiovascular event (CVE).


Prospective, single-centre, cross-sectional study.


The division of Cardiology at Fondazione Cardiocentro Ticino Lugano, Switzerland.


We prospectively included 920 consecutive individuals with no history of CAD who underwent computed tomography coronary angiography (CTCA). Risk estimation of fatal and non-fatal CVE was assessed using Global Assessment Risk (GAR) and Systematic Coronary Risk Evaluation (SCORE), respectively. Logistic regression was used to assess the association of risk factors with the prevalence of CAP.


CAP was found in 459 (49.9%) individuals. Older age, higher body mass index, male gender, diabetes, hypertension and dyslipidaemia all increased the likelihood of the CAP burden at univariable analysis (p<0.001). At the multivariable analysis older age, male gender, hypertension and diabetes independently increased the likelihood of CAP burden (p<0.001). An increase in likelihood of CAP was observed in the presence of one, two and three or more risk factors and with an increasing value of GAR and SCORE. Notably, about 18% of subjects with CAP did not report any traditional risk factors and among individuals without CAPs, 12% had three or more risk factors.


A direct relation between the prevalence of CAP, number of risk factors and the related 10-year risk of CVE was found. 18% of subjects without risk factors had CAP. In these individuals CTCA may help in further optimising the risk reduction strategies on an individual basis.

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