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Coronary Artery Calcification as a Marker for Coronary Artery Stenosis: Comparing Kidney Failure to the General Population

Thijs T Jansz, Meike H Y Go, Nolan S Hartkamp, J Lauran Stöger, Csilla Celeng, Tim Leiner, Pim A de Jong, Frank J L Visseren, Marianne C Verhaar, Brigit C van Jaarsveld

Published: 2021

Abstract

Rationale & objective: The presence of calcified plaques in the coronary arteries is associated with cardiovascular mortality and is a hallmark of chronic kidney failure, but it is unclear whether this is associated with the same degree of coronary artery stenosis as in patients without kidney disease. We compared the relationship of coronary artery calcification (CAC) and stenosis between dialysis patients and patients without chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Study design: Observational cohort study.

Setting & participants: 127 dialysis patients and 447 patients without CKD with cardiovascular risk factors underwent cardiac computed tomography (CT), consisting of non-contrast-enhanced CT and CT angiography. CAC score and degree of coronary artery stenosis were assessed by independent readers.

Predictor: Dialysis treatment.

Outcome: Association between calcification and stenosis.

Analytical approach: Logistic regression to determine the association between CAC score and the presence of stenosis in a matched cohort and, in the full cohort, testing for the interaction of dialysis status with this relationship.

Results: 112 patients were matched from each cohort, totaling 224 patients, using propensity scores for dialysis, balancing numerous cardiovascular risk factors. Median CAC score was 210 (IQR, 19-859) in dialysis patients and 58 (IQR, 0-254) in patients without CKD; 35% of dialysis patients and 36% of patients without CKD had coronary artery stenosis ≥ 50%. Per each 100-unit higher CAC score, the matched dialysis cohort had significantly lower ORs for stenosis than the non-CKD cohort, 0.67 (95% CI, 0.52-0.83) for stenosis ≥ 50% and 0.75 (95% CI, 0.62-0.90) for stenosis ≥ 70%.

Limitations: No comparison with the gold standard fractional flow reserve.

Conclusions: Dialysis patients have higher risk for coronary artery stenosis with higher CAC scores, but this risk is comparatively lower than in patients without CKD with similar CAC scores. In dialysis patients, a high CAC score can easily be found without significant stenosis. Our data enable “translation” of degree of calcification to the probability of coronary stenosis in dialysis patients.

Full Access Link: Kidney Medicine