Cardiovascular risk stratification by coronary computed tomography angiography imaging: current state-of-the-art.
Antonopoulos AS., Angelopoulos A., Tsioufis K., Antoniades C., Tousoulis D.
Current cardiovascular risk stratification by use of clinical risk score systems or plasma biomarkers is good but less than satisfactory in identifying patients at residual risk for coronary events. Recent clinical evidence puts now further emphasis on the role of coronary anatomy assessment by coronary computed tomography angiography (CCTA) for the management of patients with stable ischaemic heart disease. Available computed tomography (CT) technology allows the quantification of plaque burden, identification of high-risk plaques, or the functional assessment of coronary lesions for ischaemia detection and revascularization for refractory angina symptoms. The current CT armamentum is also further enhanced by perivascular Fat Attenuation Index (FAI), a non-invasive metric of coronary inflammation, which allows for the first time the direct quantification of the residual vascular inflammatory burden. Machine learning and radiomic features' extraction and spectral CT for tissue characterization are also expected to maximize the diagnostic and prognostic yield of CCTA. The combination of anatomical, functional, and biological information on coronary circulation by CCTA offers a unique toolkit for the risk stratification of patients, and patient selection for targeted aggressive prevention strategies. We hereby provide a review of the current state-of-the art in the field and discuss how integrating the full capacities of CCTA into clinical care pathways opens new opportunities for the tailored management of coronary artery disease.