Multimodality Intracoronary Imaging With Near-Infrared Spectroscopy and Intravascular Ultrasound in Asymptomatic Individuals With High Calcium Scores

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Background—This study sought to determine the frequency of large lipid-rich plaques (LRP) in the coronary arteries of individuals with high coronary artery calcium scores (CACS) and to determine whether the CACS correlates with coronary lipid burden.Methods and Results—Combined near-infrared spectroscopy and intravascular ultrasound was performed in 57 vessels in 20 asymptomatic individuals (90% on statins) with no prior history of coronary artery disease who had a screening CACS ≥300 Agatston units. Among 268 10-mm coronary segments, near-infrared spectroscopy images were analyzed for LRP, defined as a bright yellow block on the near-infrared spectroscopy block chemogram. Lipid burden was assessed as the lipid core burden index (LCBI), and large LRP were defined as a maximum LCBI in 4 mm ≥400. Vessel plaque volume was measured by quantitative intravascular ultrasound. Vessel-level CACS significantly correlated with plaque volume by intravascular ultrasound (r=0.69; P<0.0001) but not with LCBI by near-infrared spectroscopy (r=0.24; P=0.07). Despite a high CACS, no LRP was detected in 8 (40.0%) subjects. Large LRP having a maximum LCBI in 4 mm ≥400 were infrequent, found in only 5 (25.0%) of 20 subjects and in only 5 (1.9%) of 268 10-mm coronary segments analyzed.Conclusions—Among individuals with a CACS ≥300 Agatston units mostly on statins, CACS correlated with total plaque volume but not LCBI. This observation may have implications on coronary risk among individuals with a high CACS considering that it is coronary LRP, rather than calcification, that underlies the majority of acute coronary events.

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