Coronary plaque structural stress is associated with plaque composition and subtype and higher in acute coronary syndrome: The BEACON i (Biomechanical Evaluation of Atheromatous Coronary Arteries) study

Zhongzhao Teng, Adam J. Brown, Patrick A. Calvert, Richard A. Parker, Daniel R. Obaid, Yuan Huang, Stephen P. Hoole, Nick E.J. West, Jonathan H. Gillard, Martin R. Bennett

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Background-Atherosclerotic plaques underlying most myocardial infarctions have thin fbrous caps and large necrotic cores; however, these features alone do not reliably identify plaques that rupture. Rupture occurs when plaque structural stress (PSS) exceeds mechanical strength. We examined whether PSS could be calculated in vivo based on virtual histology (VH) intravascular ultrasound and whether PSS varied according to plaque composition, subtype, or clinical presentation. Methods and Results-A total of 4429 VH intravascular ultrasound frames from 53 patients were analyzed, identifying 99 584 individual plaque components. PSS was calculated by fnite element analysis in whole vessels, in individual plaques, and in higher-risk regions (plaque burden ≥70%, mean luminal area ≤4 mm2, noncalcifed VH-defned thin-cap fbroatheroma). Plaque components including total area/arc of calcifcation (R2=0.33; P<0.001 and R2=0.28; P<0.001) and necrotic core (R2=0.18; P<0.001 and R2=0.15; P<0.001) showed complex, nonlinear relationships with PSS. PSS was higher in noncalcifed VH-defned thin-cap fbroatheroma compared with thick-cap fbroatheromas (median [Q1-Q3], 8.44 [6.97-10.64] versus 7.63 [6.37-9.68]; P=0.002). PSS was also higher in patients with an acute coronary syndrome, where mean luminal area ≤4 mm2 (8.24 [7.06-9.93] versus 7.72 [6.33-9.34]; P=0.03), plaque burden ≥70% (9.18 [7.44-10.88] versus 7.93 [6.16-9.46]; P=0.02), and in noncalcifed VH-defned thin-cap fbroatheroma (9.23 [7.33-11.44] versus 7.65 [6.45-8.62]; P=0.02). Finally, PSS increased the positive predictive value for VH intravascular ultrasound to identify clinical presentation. Conclusions-Finite element analysis modeling demonstrates that structural stress is highly variable within plaques, with increased PSS associated with plaque composition, subtype, and higher-risk regions in patients with acute coronary syndrome. PSS may represent a novel tool to analyze the dynamic behavior of coronary plaques with the potential to improve prediction of plaque rupture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)461-470
Number of pages10
JournalCirculation: Cardiovascular Imaging
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Arteriosclerosis
  • Coronary disease
  • Ultrasonics

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