Impact of Statins on Cardiovascular Outcomes Following Coronary Artery Calcium Scoring

Joshua D. Mitchell, Nicole Fergestrom, Brian F. Gage, Robert Paisley, Patrick Moon, Eric Novak, Michael Cheezum, Leslee J. Shaw, Todd C. Villines

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Background: Compared with traditional risk factors, coronary artery calcium (CAC) scores improve prognostic accuracy for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) outcomes. However, the relative impact of statins on ASCVD outcomes stratified by CAC scores is unknown. Objectives: The authors sought to determine whether CAC can identify patients most likely to benefit from statin treatment. Methods: The authors identified consecutive subjects without pre-existing ASCVD or malignancy who underwent CAC scoring from 2002 to 2009 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The primary outcome was first major adverse cardiovascular event (MACE), a composite of acute myocardial infarction, stroke, and cardiovascular death. The effect of statin therapy on outcomes was analyzed stratified by CAC presence and severity, after adjusting for baseline comorbidities with inverse probability of treatment weights based on propensity scores. Results: A total of 13,644 patients (mean age 50 years; 71% men) were followed for a median of 9.4 years. Comparing patients with and without statin exposure, statin therapy was associated with reduced risk of MACE in patients with CAC (adjusted subhazard ratio: 0.76; 95% confidence interval: 0.60 to 0.95; p = 0.015), but not in patients without CAC (adjusted subhazard ratio: 1.00; 95% confidence interval: 0.79 to 1.27; p = 0.99). The effect of statin use on MACE was significantly related to the severity of CAC (p < 0.0001 for interaction), with the number needed to treat to prevent 1 initial MACE outcome over 10 years ranging from 100 (CAC 1 to 100) to 12 (CAC >100). Conclusions: In a largescale cohort without baseline ASCVD, the presence and severity of CAC identified patients most likely to benefit from statins for the primary prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3233-3242
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American College of Cardiology
Issue number25
StatePublished - Dec 25 2018


  • atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease
  • calcium score
  • cardiovascular risk
  • primary prevention
  • screening

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