CT coronary angiography-guided cardiovascular risk screening in asymptomatic patients: is it time?
Graby J., Khavandi A., Thompson D., Downie P., Antoniades C., Rodrigues JCL.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in the UK, whilst millions live with various forms of the disease. Coronary artery disease constitutes a significant portion of this morbidity and mortality, and is the leading cause of premature death. Increasing focus is thus being placed on the optimisation of CVD prevention, where risk screening plays a key role. Indeed, the decline in age-adjusted cardiovascular mortality achieved up to now has been largely attributed to primary preventative therapies (e.g., statins) introduced earlier in the disease process. National initiatives exist to improve cardiovascular health at a population level, but in its current form, CVD screening at the individual level is predominantly undertaken using multivariate risk scores based on population-based data. These have multiple innate flaws, highlighted in this review. Non-invasive imaging plays a key role in the screening of other disease processes, helping to personalise the screening process. Although the coronary artery calcium score as a screening tool has a role in national and international guidance, whether a shift to screening with computed tomography coronary angiography (CTCA) is now appropriate is open for discussion. Image acquisition techniques continue to improve with reducing radiation exposure and an ever-expanding evidence-base for additional prognostic data offered by CTCA. This enables the potential identification of sub-clinical atherosclerosis, including with novel artificial intelligence techniques. This review aims to report current guidelines regarding cardiac CT imaging in the asymptomatic primary prevention setting, advances in various CT technologies and future opportunities for progress in this field.