Integrating Coronary Atherosclerosis Burden and Progression with Coronary Artery Disease Risk Factors to Guide Therapeutic Decision Making

Published:December 09, 2022DOI:



      Although atherosclerosis represents the primary driver of coronary artery disease, evaluation and treatment approaches have historically relied upon indirect markers of atherosclerosis that include surrogates (cholesterol), signs (angina), and sequelae (ischemia) of atherosclerosis. Direct quantification and characterization of atherosclerosis may encourage a precision heart care paradigm that improves diagnosis, risk stratification, therapeutic decision-making, and longitudinal disease tracking in a personalized fashion.


      The American College of Cardiology Innovations in Prevention Working Group introduce the Atherosclerosis Treatment Algorithms that personalize medical interventions based upon atherosclerosis findings from coronary computed tomography angiography (CTA) and cardiovascular risk factors. Through integration of coronary CTA-based atherosclerosis evaluation, clinical practice guidelines, and contemporary randomized controlled trial evidence, the Atherosclerosis Treatment Algorithms leverage patient-specific atherosclerosis burden and progression as primary targets for therapeutic intervention. After defining stages of atherosclerosis severity by coronary CTA, Atherosclerosis Treatment Algorithms are described for worsening stages of atherosclerosis for patients with lipid disorders, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and tobacco use. The authors anticipate a rapid pace of research in the field, and conclude by providing perspectives on future needs that may improve efforts to optimize precision prevention of coronary artery disease. Importantly, the Atherosclerosis Treatment Algorithms are not endorsed by the American College of Cardiology, and should not be interpreted as a statement of American College of Cardiology policy.

      Conclusions and Relevance

      We describe a precision heart care approach that emphasizes atherosclerosis as the primary disease target for evaluation and treatment. To our knowledge, this is the first proposal to use coronary atherosclerosis burden and progression to personalize therapy selection and therapy changes, respectively.


      The American College of Cardiology Foundation has made an investment in Cleerly, Inc., makers of a software solution that utilizes coronary CT angiography findings to evaluate coronary artery disease.


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