Incidence of coronary heart disease: Link between carotid plaque and coronary artery calcium

By Samar Mahmoud, MS
Published January 27, 2022

Key Takeaways

  • This population-based study found that carotid plaque was associated with the presence of coronary artery calcium (CAC) in a general population cohort.

  • Presence of carotid plaque was predictive of coronary heart disease (CHD) risk and could be a useful prognostic tool in females.

Coronary artery calcium (CAC) and carotid artery plaques are markers of atherosclerosis and strong predictors of cardiovascular disease events.

Why This Study Matters 

The relationship between CAC and carotid plaque in individuals without coronary heart disease (CHD) is currently unknown. To fill this gap, this study sought to assess the link between CAC and carotid plaque burden in asymptomatic individuals and to evaluate their prognostic value at identifying future CHD events.

Study Design

The study included 948 participants without clinical CHD. 

CAC scores were classified into the following groups: 0; 1-100; 101-300; and >300. ‘

Carotid plaque severity was classified as none, minimal, or significant. 

Results and Conclusions

The incidence of both CAC and carotid artery plaque was high among study participants, with 69.5% of males and 41.7% of females presenting with both. 

Total carotid plaque area (TPA) performed better than base models at predicting CHD events. 

Risk of CHD events increased with carotid plaque burden in female participants categorized as being low risk.

Related Research

Consider these findings from similar research studies:

  • The presence of carotid plaque is associated with risk of long-term coronary heart disease among asymptomatic individuals (Source).  

  • CAC score was a better predictor of cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease than carotid ultrasound measures (Source).

Original Source 

Gudmundsson EF, Björnsdottir G, Sigurdsson S, et al. Carotid plaque is strongly associated with coronary artery calcium and predicts incident coronary heart disease in a population-based cohort. Atherosclerosis. Published online January 2022:S0021915022000430.

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