Relationship between changes in coronary atherosclerotic plaque burden measured by intravascular ultrasound and cardiovascular disease outcomes: A systematic literature review

Carol Forbes, Ruben G.W. Quek, Sohan Deshpande, Gill Worthy, Janine Ross, Jos Kleijnen, Shravanthi R. Gandra, Helina Kassahun, Nathan D. Wong, Stephen J. Nicholls

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Objective Evidence from coronary imaging studies suggests an association between increased atherosclerotic plaque burden and cardiovascular disease (CVD) outcomes. A systematic review was performed to evaluate the relationship between coronary atherosclerotic plaque burden changes measured by intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) and CVD outcomes. Research design and methods Rigorous systematic review methodology was used to identify prospective studies of any design assessing the relationship between atherosclerotic plaque volume (percentage or total atheroma volume [PAV or TAV]) changes and CVD outcomes, using multivariable analyses. Main outcome measures CVD outcomes including major adverse cardiac events (MACEs) and major adverse cardiac and cerebrovascular events (MACCEs). Results Literature searches from inception to February 2015 retrieved 6958 records after de-duplication. From these four studies (14 papers) were included. One study reported a significantly lower rate of CVD outcomes associated with a greater reduction in PAV (hazard ratio [HR] 0.26, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.07-0.83). One study reported that large plaque volume was significantly associated with a greater risk of major adverse cardiac events (MACEs) (HR 1.73, 95% CI: 1.02-2.96). Similarly, a third study reported a significant increase in MACE with an increase in baseline PAV (HR 1.51, 95% CI: 1.06-2.51). Only one potentially inadequately powered Japanese study did not find a statistically significant relationship between PAV changes and MACE. Conclusions The current evidence suggests an independent and statistically significant association between increases in coronary atherosclerotic plaque burden measured by IVUS and greater long-term risk of future CVD outcomes. However, this evidence comes from a limited number of studies which mainly focus on Japanese populations and populations after PCI. Further large prospective studies are required to confirm these findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1143-1150
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Medical Research and Opinion
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Atherosclerotic plaque
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Risk factors
  • Systematic review

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