OBJECTIVES: This study explored whether the pattern of nonobstructive lesion progression into obstructive lesions would differ according to the presence of high-risk plaque (HRP).
BACKGROUND: It is still debatable whether HRP simply represents a certain phase during the natural history of coronary atherosclerotic plaques or if disease progression would differ according to the presence of HRP.
METHODS: Patients with nonobstructive coronary artery disease, defined as percent diameter stenosis (%DS) <50%, were enrolled from a prospective, multinational registry of consecutive patients who underwent serial coronary computed tomography angiography at an interscan interval of ≥2 years. HRP was defined as lesions with ≥2 features of positive remodeling, spotty calcification, or low-attenuation plaque. Quantitative total and compositional percent atheroma volume (PAV) at baseline and annualized PAV change were compared between non-HRP and HRP lesions.
RESULTS: A total of 3,049 nonobstructive lesions were identified from 1,297 patients (mean age 60.3 ± 9.3 years; 56.8% men). There were 2,624 non-HRP and 425 HRP lesions. HRP lesions had a greater total PAV and all noncalcified components of PAV and %DS at baseline compared with non-HRP lesions. However, the annualized total PAV changes were greater in non-HRP lesions than in HRP lesions. On multivariate analysis adjusted for clinical risk factors, drug use, change in lipid level, total PAV, %DS, and HRP, only the baseline total PAV and %DS independently predicted the development of obstructive lesions (hazard ratio [HR]: 1.04; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.02 to 1.07, and HR: 1.07; 95% CI: 1.04 to 1.10, respectively, all p < 0.05), whereas the presence of HRP did not (p > 0.05).
CONCLUSIONS: The pattern of individual coronary atherosclerotic plaque progression differed according to the presence of HRP. Baseline PAV, not the presence of HRP features, was the most important predictor of lesions developing into obstructive lesions. (Progression of Atherosclerotic Plaque Determined By Computed Tomographic Angiography Imaging [PARADIGM]; NCT02803411).