Ordinal scoring of coronary artery calcifications on low-dose CT scans of the chest is predictive of death from cardiovascular disease

Joseph Shemesh, Claudia I. Henschke, Dorith Shaham, Rowena Yip, Ali O. Farooqi, Matthew D. Cham, Dorothy I. McCauley, Mildred Chen, James P. Smith, Daniel M. Libby, Mark W. Pasmantier, David F. Yankelevitz

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230 Scopus citations


Purpose: To assess the usefulness of ordinal scoring of the visual assessment of coronary artery calcification (CAC) on low-dose computed tomographic (CT) scans of the chest in the prediction of cardiovascular death. Materials and Methods: All participants consented to low-dose CT screening according to an institutional review board-approved protocol. The amount of CAC was assessed on ungated lowdose CT scans of the chest obtained between June 2000 and December 2005 in a cohort of 8782 smokers aged 40-85 years. The four main coronary arteries were visually scored, and each participant received a CAC score of 0-12. The date and cause of death was obtained by using the National Death Index. Follow-up time (median, 72.3 months; range, 0.3-91.9 months) was calculated as the time between CT and death, loss to follow-up, or December 31, 2007, whichever came first. Logistic regression analysis was used to determine the risk of mortality according to CAC category adjusted for age, pack-years of cigarette smoking, and sex. The same analysis to determine the hazard ratio for survival from cardiac death was performed by using Cox regression analysis. Results: The rate of cardiovascular deaths increased with an increasing CAC score and was 1.2% (43 of 3573 subjects) for a score of 0, 1.8% (66 of 3569 subjects) for a score of 1-3, 5.0% (51 of 1015 subjects) for a score of 4-6, and 5.3% (33 of 625 subjects) for a score of 7-12. With use of subjects with a CAC score of 0 as the reference group, a CAC score of at least 4 was a significant predictor of cardiovascular death (odds ratio [OR], 4.7; 95% confidence interval: 3.3, 6.8; P<.0001); when adjusted for sex, age, and pack-years of smoking, the CAC score remained significant (OR, 2.1; 95% confidence interval: 1.4, 3.1; P =.0002). Conclusion: Visual assessment of CAC on low-dose CT scans provides clinically relevant quantitative information as to cardiovascular death.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)541-548
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2010
Externally publishedYes


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