Coronary Artery Calcium to Guide a Personalized Risk-Based Approach to Initiation and Intensification of Antihypertensive Therapy

John W. McEvoy, Seth S. Martin, Zeina A. Dardari, Michael D. Miedema, Veit Sandfort, Joseph Yeboah, Matthew J. Budoff, David C. Goff, Bruce M. Psaty, Wendy S. Post, Khurram Nasir, Roger S. Blumenthal, Michael J. Blaha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Background: The use of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) risk to personalize systolic blood pressure (SBP) treatment goals is a topic of increasing interest. Therefore, we studied whether coronary artery calcium (CAC) can further guide the allocation of anti-hypertensive treatment intensity. Methods: We included 3733 participants from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) with SBP between 120 and 179 mm Hg. Within subgroups categorized by both SBP (120-139 mm Hg, 140-159 mm Hg, and 160-179 mm Hg) and estimated 10-year ASCVD risk (using the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Assocation pooled-cohort equations), we compared multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios for the composite outcome of incident ASCVD or heart failure after further stratifying by CAC (0, 1-100, or >100). We estimated 10-year number-needed-to-treat for an intensive SBP goal of 120 mm Hg by applying the treatment benefit recorded in meta-analyses to event rates within CAC strata. Results: The mean age was 65 years, and 642 composite events took place over a median of 10.2 years. In persons with SBP <160 mm Hg, CAC stratified risk for events. For example, among those with an ASCVD risk of <15% and who had an SBP of either 120 to 139 mm Hg or 140 to 159 mm Hg, respectively, we found increasing hazard ratios for events with CAC 1 to 100 (1.7 [95% confidence interval, 1.0-2.6] or 2.0 [1.1-3.8]) and CAC >100 (3.0 [1.8-5.0] or 5.7 [2.9-11.0]), all relative to CAC=0. There appeared to be no statistical association between CAC and events when SBP was 160 to 179 mm Hg, irrespective of ASCVD risk level. Estimated 10-year number-needed-to-treat for a SBP goal of 120mmHg varied substantially according to CAC levels when predicted ASCVD risk <15% and SBP <160mmHg (eg, 10-year number-needed-to-treat of 99 for CAC=0 and 24 for CAC>100, when SBP 120-139mm Hg). However, few participants with ASCVD risk <5% had elevated CAC. Furthermore, 10-year number-needed-to-treat estimates were consistently low and varied less among CAC strata when SBP was 160 to 179 mm Hg or when ASCVD risk was ≥15% at any SBP level. Conclusions: Combined CAC imaging and assessment of global ASCVD risk has the potential to guide personalized SBP goals (eg, choosing a traditional goal of 140 or a more intensive goal of 120 mm Hg), particularly among adults with an estimated ASCVD risk of 5% to 15% and prehypertension or mild hypertension.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-165
Number of pages13
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 10 2017


  • Antihypertensive therapy
  • Cardiovascular disease risk
  • Coronary artery calcium
  • Systolic blood pressure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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