What comes before coronary artery disease? Defining atheroma burden

Warrick Bishop



Recent advances in several technologies, such as CT imaging and intravascular ultrasound, allow evaluation of atheroma build up in the coronary arteries. The ability to provide images showing the extent of plaque formation within the coronary arteries before disorder of function is new to the management of coronary artery disease and perhaps consideration of new terminology is now required.

Key Points

  • New technologies allow visualisation of coronary atheroma.
  • Not all coronary atheroma will necessarily be high risk or cause a problem.
  • Describing atheroma burden as coronary disease before symptoms or loss of function may not always be most appropriate.
  • Defining atheroma burden may allow intervention to prevent development of disease.

    Picture credit: © Phototake/Kevin A. Somerville/