A new study in Circulation used coronary CTA scans and CAC scoring to reveal a surprisingly high prevalence of “silent” coronary artery atherosclerosis in the general population, suggesting that this could “lay the foundation” for future CT-based cardiac screening programs.
The Study – The researchers analyzed CCTA and CAC exams from 25k randomly recruited Swedish participants (50-64yrs, none w/ known coronary heart disease) finding that:
- 42% had CCTA-detected atherosclerosis
- 8.3% had noncalcified plaques
- 5.2% had significant stenosis
- 1.9% had serious coronary artery diseases
- All participants with >400 CAC scores had atherosclerosis (yes, 100%), and 45.7% had significant stenosis
- Some participants with 0 CAC scores had atherosclerosis (5.5%) and significant stenosis (0.4%)
- So, CAC-based screening might still miss some at-risk patients
The Takeaway – 2021 brought a notable surge in academic and business efforts focused on CT-based cardiac screening, and this study’s revelation about “silent” atherosclerosis in the general population suggests that cardiac screening’s momentum will continue.