Objectives: Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is a common initial manifestation of coronary heart disease (CHD); however, SCD risk prediction remains elusive. Background: Coronary artery calcium (CAC) is a marker of plaque burden. Whether CAC improves risk stratification for incident SCD beyond atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) risk factors is unknown. Methods: We studied 66,636 primary prevention patients from the CAC Consortium. Multivariable competing risks regression and C-statistics were used to assess the association between CAC and SCD, adjusting for demographics and traditional risk factors. Results: The mean age was 54.4 years, 33% were women, 11% were of non-White ethnicity, and 55% had CAC >0. A total of 211 SCD events (0.3%) were observed during a median follow-up of 10.6 years, 91% occurring among those with baseline CAC >0. Compared with CAC = 0, there was a stepwise higher risk (P trend < 0.001) in SCD for CAC 100 to 399 (subdistribution hazard ratio [SHR]: 2.8; 95% CI: 1.6-5.0), CAC 400 to 999 (SHR: 4.0; 95% CI: 2.2-7.3), and CAC >1,000 (SHR: 4.9; 95% CI: 2.6-9.9). CAC provided incremental improvements in the C-statistic for the prediction of SCD among individuals with a 10-year risk <7.5% (ΔC-statistic = +0.046; P = 0.02) and 7.5% to 20% (ΔC-statistic = +0.069; P = 0.003), which were larger when compared with persons with a 10-year risk >20% (ΔC-statistic = +0.01; P = 0.54). Conclusions: Higher CAC burden strongly associates with incident SCD beyond traditional risk factors, particularly among primary prevention patients with low-intermediate risk. SCD risk stratification can be useful in the early stages of CHD through the measurement of CAC, identifying patients most likely to benefit from further downstream testing.
- cardiovascular diseases
- coronary artery calcium
- multidetector computed tomography
- sudden cardiac death
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine