BACKGROUND: Patients with acute coronary syndrome (ACS) associated to high C-reactive protein (CRP) levels exhibit a higher risk of future acute ischemic events. Yet, the positive predictive value of CRP is too low to guide a specific treatment. Our study aims to identify a high-risk patient subset who might mostly benefit from anti-inflammatory treatment on the basis of the combination of optical coherence tomography (OCT) assessment of the culprit vessel and CRP serum levels.
METHODS: Patients admitted for ACS and undergoing pre-interventional OCT assessment of the culprit vessel were selected from "Agostino Gemelli" Hospital OCT Registry. The primary end-point was recurrent ACS (re-ACS). CRP levels ≥2 mg/L were considered abnormal.
RESULTS: The overall study population consisted of 178 patients. Among these, 156 patients were included in the primary end-point analysis. The re-ACS rate was 23% at 3-year follow-up. High CRP (2.587, 95% CI:1.345-10.325, p = 0.031), plaque rupture (3.985, 95% CI:1.698-8.754, p = 0.009), macrophage infiltration (3.145, 95% CI:1.458-9.587, p = 0.012) and multifocal atherosclerosis (2.734, 95% CI:1.748-11.875, p = 0.042) were independent predictors of re-ACS. All patients (14/14) with high CRP and with all OCT high-risk features had re-ACS. At the other extreme, only 4 of the 82 patients with low CRP levels and lack of high-risk features at OCT examination exhibited re-ACS at follow-up.
CONCLUSIONS: The combination of systemic evidence of inflammation and OCT findings in the culprit plaque identifies very high-risk ACS. Future studies are warranted to confirm these findings and to test an anti-inflammatory treatment in this patient subset.