Warfarin Use Is Associated With Progressive Coronary Arterial Calcification: Insights From Serial Intravascular Ultrasound

Jordan Andrews, Peter J. Psaltis, Ozgur Bayturan, Mingyuan Shao, Brian Stegman, Mohamed Elshazly, Samir R. Kapadia, E. Murat Tuzcu, Steven E. Nissen, Stephen J. Nicholls, Rishi Puri

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Objectives: This study compared serial changes in coronary percent atheroma volume (PAV) and calcium index (CaI) in patients with coronary artery disease who were treated with and without warfarin. Background: Warfarin blocks the synthesis and activity of matrix Gla protein, a vitamin K–dependent inhibitor of arterial calcification. The longitudinal impact of warfarin on serial coronary artery calcification in vivo in humans is unknown. Methods: In a post hoc patient-level analysis of 8 prospective randomized trials using serial coronary intravascular ultrasound examinations, this study compared changes in PAV and CaI in matched arterial segments in patients with coronary artery disease who were treated with (n = 171) and without (n = 4,129) warfarin during an 18- to 24-month period. Results: Patients (mean age 57.9 ± 9.2 years; male 73%; prior and concomitant 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitors (statin) use, 73% and 97%, respectively) demonstrated overall increases in PAV of 0.41 ± 0.07% (p = 0.001 compared with baseline) and in CaI (median) of 0.04 (interquartile range [IQR]: 0.00 to 0.11; p < 0.001 compared with baseline). Following propensity-weighted adjustment for clinical trial and a range of clinical, ultrasonic, and laboratory parameters, there was no significant difference in the annualized change in PAV in the presence and absence of warfarin treatment (0.33 ± 0.05% vs. 0.25 ± 0.05%; p = 0.17). A significantly greater annualized increase in CaI was observed in warfarin-treated compared with non–warfarin-treated patients (median 0.03; IQR: 0.0 to 0.08 vs. median 0.02; IQR: 0.0 to 0.06; p < 0.001). In a sensitivity analysis evaluating a 1:1 matched cohort (n = 164 per group), significantly greater annualized changes in CaI were also observed in warfarin-treated compared with non–warfarin-treated patients. In a multivariate model, warfarin was independently associated with an increasing CaI (odds ratio: 1.16; 95% confidence interval: 1.05 to 1.28; p = 0.003). Conclusions: Warfarin therapy is associated with progressive coronary atheroma calcification independent of changes in atheroma volume. The impact of these changes on plaque stability and cardiovascular outcomes requires further investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1315-1323
Number of pages9
JournalJACC: Cardiovascular Imaging
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • atherosclerosis
  • calcium
  • intravascular ultrasound
  • warfarin

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