OBJECTIVES: Up to 20% of coronary angiograms reveal normal arteries. How long they stay normal is poorly understood. This study investigated the fate of normal coronary arteries and determined the rate of development of coronary artery disease.
METHODS: We interrogated the angiographic archive of the South Yorkshire Cardiothoracic Centre between 2004 and 2013 to identify patients with truly normal coronary arteries who underwent repeat coronary angiography more than 1 year later. Follow up angiograms were scored for the severity and extent of CAD (graded per segment as 0%, 1-50%, >50%). Risk factors for the development of coronary artery disease were documented. Univariate predictors of disease development were identified and entered into a logistic regression model to identify independent predictors.
RESULTS: Out of over 25,000 angiographic procedures in the archives we found 6068 patients reported to have normal coronary arteries. Of these, 162 patients had also undergone subsequent repeat coronary angiography. Of these, 97 had truly normal (smooth) coronary arteries at baseline and had undergone repeat angiography >1 year later. At a median 51 months, 87 continued to have normal arteries, and all the remaining 10 had mild disease only (average 37% stenosis in an average 1.2 segments). No patients developed any significant (>50% stenosis) disease. Advanced age, time between angiograms, and smoking status were identified as independent predictors of development of CAD.
CONCLUSIONS: Truly normal coronary arteries do not progress to significant disease within a time frame of 4 years. Repeat coronary angiography within that period is probably not indicated.