The rationale of this study was to identify patients with fast progression of coronary plaque volume PV and characterize changes in PV and plaque components over time.
Total PV (TPV) was measured in 350 patients undergoing serial coronary computed tomography angiography (median scan interval 3.6 years) using semi-automated software. Plaque morphology was assessed based on attenuation values and stratified into calcified, fibrous, fibrous-fatty and low-attenuation PV for volumetric measurements. Every plaque was additionally classified as either calcified, partially calcified or non-calcified.
In total, 812 and 955 plaques were detected in the first and second scan. Mean TPV increase was 20 % on a per-patient base (51.3 mm³ [interquartile range (IQR): 14.4, 126.7] vs. 61.6 mm³ [IQR: 16.7, 170.0]). TPV increase was driven by calcified PV (first scan: 7.6 mm³ [IQR: 0.2, 33.6] vs. second scan: 16.6 mm³ [IQR: 1.8, 62.1], p < 0.01). Forty-two patients showed fast progression of TPV, defined as >1.3 mm3 increase of TPV per month. Male sex (odds ratio 3.1, p = 0.02) and typical angina (odds ratio 3.95, p = 0.03) were identified as risk factors for fast TPV progression, while high-density lipoprotein cholesterol had a protective effect (odds ratio per 10 mg/dl increase of HDL cholesterol: 0.72, p < 0.01). Progression to >50 % stenosis at follow-up was observed in 34 of 327 (10.4 %) calcified plaques, in 13 of 401 (3.2 %) partially calcified plaques and 2 of 221 (0.9 %) non-calcified plaques (p < 0.01).
Fast plaque progression was observed in male patients and patients with typical angina. High HDL cholesterol showed a protective effect.