Analysis Supports Coronary Artery Calcium Scans for Personalizing Statin Use

Analysis Supports CAC for Personalizing
Statin Use

Richard Mark Kirkner

July 21, 2021

In patients with intermediate risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseasealong with risk-enhancing factors, coronary artery calcium scoring may help more precisely calculate their need for statin therapy.

Furthermore, when the need for statin treatment isn’t so clear and patients need additional risk assessment, the scoring can provide further information to personalize clinical decision making, according to a cross-sectional study of 1,688 participants in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis(MESA) published in JAMA Cardiology.

And regardless of coronary artery calcium (CAC), a low ankle brachial index (ABI) score is a marker for statin therapy, the study found.

The study looked at CAC scoring in the context of ABI and other risk-enhancing factors identified in the 2018 American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology cholesterol management guidelines: a family history of premature atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), lipid and inflammatory biomarkers, chronic kidney disease, chronic inflammatory conditions, premature menopause or preeclampsia, and South Asian ancestry.

“The novel risk-enhancing factors are not perfect,” said lead author Jaideep Patel, MD, director of preventive cardiology at Johns Hopkins Heart Center at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. He noted that the 2018 dyslipidemia guidelines suggested the risk for cardiovascular events rises when new risk-enhancing factors emerge, and that it was difficult to predict the extent to which each enhancer could change the 10-year risk.

Utility of CAC

“In this setting, the most significant finding that supports the utility of CAC scoring is when CAC is absent — a CAC of 0 — even in the setting of any of these enhancers, whether it be single or multiple, the 10-year risk remains extremely low — at the very least below the accepted threshold to initiate statin therapy,” Patel said.