Anatomical progression of coronary artery disease in humans as seen by prospective, repeated, quantitated coronary angiography. Relation to clinical events and risk factors. The INTACT Study Group.
BACKGROUND At present, there is extensive knowledge on the clinical course of coronary artery disease (CAD), whereas data on the underlying anatomical changes and their relation to clinical events are still limited.
METHODS AND RESULTS We investigated progression and regression of CAD prospectively over 3 years in 230 patients (average age, 53.2 years) with mild to moderate disease by applying quantitated, repeated coronary angiography. Minimal stenotic diameters, segment diameters, and percent stenosis were analyzed by the computer-assisted Coronary Angiography Analysis System (CAAS). Progression was defined either as an increase in percent stenosis of preexisting stenoses by greater than or equal to 20% including occlusions or as formation of new stenoses greater than or equal to 20% and new occlusions in previously angiographically "normal" segments. At first angiography, we found 838 stenoses greater than or equal to 20% (average degree, 39.3%) and 135 occlusions in the four major coronary branches (4.23 lesions per patient). At second angiography, 82 (9.8%) of the preexisting stenoses had progressed, 15 of them up to occlusion (1.8%; preocclusion degree averaging 46.6%; 29.7-65.6%). In addition, there were 144 newly formed stenoses (average degree, 39.2%) and 10 new occlusions. Hence, 25 (2.6%) of all stenoses had become occluded. Altogether, 129 patients (56.1%) showed progression: 68 (29.6%) with new lesions only, 27 (11.7%) with preexisting lesions, and 34 (14.8%) with both types. Regression (decrease in degree of stenoses greater than or equal to 20%) was present in 29 stenoses (3.6%) and 28 patients (12%). The incidence of new myocardial infarctions was low, with three originating from occluding preexisting stenoses and one from new stenoses; hence, only four (16%) of the 25 new occlusions led to myocardial infarctions. Risk factor analysis showed that cigarette smoking correlated significantly with the formation of new lesions (p = 0.001), whereas total cholesterol correlated with the further progression of preexisting stenoses (p = 0.017) but not with the incidence of new lesions.
CONCLUSIONS In patients with mild to moderate CAD, the angiographic progression is slow (in this study 18.7% of patients and 7% of stenoses per year) but exceeds regression (4.1% of patients and 1.2% of stenoses per year). Progression is predominantly seen in the formation of new coronary stenoses and less in growth of preexisting ones. Most of the stenoses were of a low degree (less than 50%), clinically not manifest including those going into occlusion and leading to myocardial infarction. Progression was influenced by risk factors, especially cigarette smoking (formation of new lesions) and high cholesterol levels (progression of preexisting stenoses).
- Copyright © 1992 by American Heart Association