Coronary plaque structural stress is associated with plaque composition and subtype and higher in acute coronary syndrome: the BEACON I (Biomechanical Evaluation of Atheromatous Coronary Arteries) study.


BACKGROUND: Atherosclerotic plaques underlying most myocardial infarctions have thin fibrous caps and large necrotic cores; however, these features alone do not reliably identify plaques that rupture. Rupture occurs when plaque structural stress (PSS) exceeds mechanical strength. We examined whether PSS could be calculated in vivo based on virtual histology (VH) intravascular ultrasound and whether PSS varied according to plaque composition, subtype, or clinical presentation. METHODS AND RESULTS: A total of 4429 VH intravascular ultrasound frames from 53 patients were analyzed, identifying 99 584 individual plaque components. PSS was calculated by finite element analysis in whole vessels, in individual plaques, and in higher-risk regions (plaque burden ≥70%, mean luminal area ≤4 mm(2), noncalcified VH-defined thin-cap fibroatheroma). Plaque components including total area/arc of calcification (R(2)=0.33; P