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High-risk plaques can predict poor cardiovascular outcomes in patients with chest pain

Chest pain is a common symptom of coronary artery disease, a condition in which a waxy substance called plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries. In particular, some plaques have features associated with a high risk of major adverse cardiovascular events such as heart attacks or death. Researchers recently evaluated these so-called high-risk plaques in 4,415 U.S. outpatients with stable chest pain using a noninvasive technique called coronary computed tomographic angiography. High-risk plaque was present in 15% of patients and carried a 70% increased risk of future major adverse cardiovascular events. The study, which was published in JAMA Cardiology and was partly funded by NHLBI, suggests that the noninvasive detection of high-risk plaques can help clinicians identify and appropriately care for patients who will be more likely to experience poor clinical outcomes related to coronary artery disease.