BACKGROUND: The contribution of plaque extent to predict cardiovascular events among patients with nonobstructive and obstructive coronary artery disease (CAD) is not well defined. Our objective was to evaluate the prognostic value of plaque extent detected by coronary computed tomography angiography.
METHODS AND RESULTS: All consecutive patients without prior CAD referred for coronary computed tomography angiography to evaluate for CAD were included. Examination findings were classified as normal, nonobstructive (4 segments). The cohort included 3242 patients followed for the primary outcome of cardiovascular death or myocardial infarction for a median of 3.6 (2.1-5.0) years. In a multivariable analysis, the presence of extensive nonobstructive CAD (hazard ratio, 3.1; 95% confidence interval, 1.5-6.4), nonextensive obstructive (hazard ratio, 3.0; 95% confidence interval, 1.3-6.9), and extensive obstructive CAD (hazard ratio, 3.9; 95% confidence interval, 2.2-7.2) were associated with an increased rate of events, whereas nonextensive, nonobstructive CAD was not. The addition of plaque extent to a model that included clinical probability as well as the presence and severity of CAD improved risk prediction.
CONCLUSIONS: Among patients with nonobstructive CAD, those with extensive plaque experienced a higher rate of cardiovascular death or myocardial infarction, comparable with those who have nonextensive disease. Even among patients with obstructive CAD, greater extent of nonobstructive plaque was associated with higher event rate. Our findings suggest that regardless of whether obstructive or nonobstructive disease is present, the extent of plaque detected by coronary computed tomography angiography enhances risk assessment.