OBJECTIVE: To determine whether asymptomatic patients with atherosclerosis, indicated by the presence of coronary artery calcium on electron beam computed tomography, are at enough risk for progression of disease to justify a repeated stress single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) examination after an initial normal to low-risk perfusion study. PATIENTS AND METHODS: We retrospectively identified patients who had abnormal results on electron beam computed tomography (coronary artery calcium score >0) and normal to low-risk results on SPECT (defined as a summed stress score of 0-3) within a 3-month period from January 1, 1995, to October 31, 2002. Of the 504 identified patients, 285 remained after exclusion criteria were applied. Of the 285 patients, 69 (mean ± SD age, 58.2±7.6 years; 91% male) underwent at least 1 repeated myocardial perfusion SPECT imaging study within 4 years of their initial assessment as normal or at low risk without recurrence of symptoms. The value of repeated SPECT imaging was assessed by detection of a substantial change in the repeated SPECT study and by documentation of a clinical event (death, nonfatal myocardial infarction, or revascularization). Follow-up was 100% complete at a mean of 4.3±1.6 years. RESULTS: Only 4 patients (6%) had a substantial progression in their SPECT risk category; substantial changes on the SPECT scans occurred only in patients with a coronary artery calcium score greater than 100. Three patients underwent revascularization, yielding a 5-year rate for survival free of revascularization of 94% (95% confidence interval, 88%-100%). No deaths or nonfatal myocardial infarctions were reported. CONCLUSION: The principal findings of this study indicate that asymptomatic patients with initial normal or low-risk results from stress SPECT performed because of abnormal coronary artery calcium scores who remain asymptomatic are at low risk of death, myocardial infarction, or coronary revascularization. Three patients underwent revascularization by percutaneous coronary intervention despite the absence of symptoms. A substantial change in SPECT results (defined as progression from normal or low-risk summed stress score to intermediate- or high-risk summed stress score) affected 6% of patients and was not associated with any adverse hard events (nonfatal myocardial infarction or death).
ASJC Scopus subject areas