The Identification of Calcified Coronary Plaque Is Associated With Initiation and Continuation of Pharmacological and Lifestyle Preventive Therapies: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Ankur Gupta, Emily Lau, Ravi Varshney, Edward A. Hulten, Michael Cheezum, Marcio S. Bittencourt, Michael J. Blaha, Nathan D. Wong, Roger S. Blumenthal, Matthew J. Budoff, Craig A. Umscheid, Khurram Nasir, Ron Blankstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objectives The aim of this study was to assess the odds of initiation or continuation of pharmacological and lifestyle preventive therapies in patients with nonzero versus zero coronary artery calcium (CAC) score detected on cardiac computed tomography. Background Detection of calcified coronary plaque could serve as a motivational tool for physicians and patients to intensify preventive therapies. Methods We searched PubMed, EMBASE (Excerpta Medica database), Web of Science, Cochrane CENTRAL (Cochrane central register of controlled trials),, and the International Clinical Trials Registry Platform for studies evaluating the association of CAC scores with downstream pharmacological or lifestyle interventions for prevention of cardiovascular disease. Pooled odds ratios (ORs) of downstream interventions were obtained using the DerSimonian and Laird random effects model. Results After a review of 6,256 citations and 54 full-text papers, 6 studies (11,256 participants, mean follow-up time: 1.6 to 6.0 years) were included. Pooled estimates of the odds of aspirin initiation (OR: 2.6; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.8 to 3.8), lipid-lowering medication initiation (OR: 2.9; 95% CI: 1.9 to 4.4), blood pressure–lowering medication initiation (OR: 1.9; 95% CI: 1.6 to 2.3), lipid-lowering medication continuation (OR: 2.3; 95% CI: 1.6 to 3.3), increase in exercise (OR: 1.8; 95% CI: 1.4 to 2.4), and dietary change (OR: 1.9; 95% CI: 1.5 to 2.5) were higher in individuals with nonzero CAC versus zero CAC scores, but not for aspirin or blood pressure–lowering medication continuation. When assessed within individual studies, these findings remained significant after adjustment for baseline patient characteristics and cardiovascular risk factors. Conclusions This systematic review and meta-analysis suggests that nonzero CAC score, identifying calcified coronary plaque, significantly increases the likelihood of initiation or continuation of pharmacological and lifestyle therapies for the prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)833-842
Number of pages10
JournalJACC: Cardiovascular Imaging
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017



  • cardiovascular prevention
  • coronary calcium score
  • meta-analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine

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