Objectives: This study was designed to investigate whether coronary computed tomography angiography assessments of coronary plaque might explain differences in the prognosis of men and women presenting with chest pain. Background: Important sex differences exist in coronary artery disease. Women presenting with chest pain have different risk factors, symptoms, prevalence of coronary artery disease and prognosis compared to men. Methods: Within a multicenter randomized controlled trial, we explored sex differences in stenosis, adverse plaque characteristics (positive remodeling, low-attenuation plaque, spotty calcification, or napkin ring sign) and quantitative assessment of total, calcified, noncalcified and low-attenuation plaque burden. Results: Of the 1,769 participants who underwent coronary computed tomography angiography, 772 (43%) were female. Women were more likely to have normal coronary arteries and less likely to have adverse plaque characteristics (p < 0.001 for all). They had lower total, calcified, noncalcified, and low-attenuation plaque burdens (p < 0.001 for all) and were less likely to have a low-attenuation plaque burden >4% (41% vs. 59%; p < 0.001). Over a median follow-up of 4.7 years, myocardial infarction (MI) occurred in 11 women (1.4%) and 30 men (3%). In those who had MI, women had similar total, noncalcified, and low-attenuation plaque burdens as men, but men had higher calcified plaque burden. Low-attenuation plaque burden predicted MI (hazard ratio: 1.60; 95% confidence interval: 1.10 to 2.34; p = 0.015), independent of calcium score, obstructive disease, cardiovascular risk score, and sex. Conclusions: Women presenting with stable chest pain have less atherosclerotic plaque of all subtypes compared to men and a lower risk of subsequent MI. However, quantitative low-attenuation plaque is as strong a predictor of subsequent MI in women as in men. (Scottish Computed Tomography of the HEART Trial [SCOT-HEART]; NCT01149590).
- computed tomography
- computed tomography coronary angiography
- coronary artery disease
- quantitative plaque analysis