Background: There is increasing evidence to suggest that not all individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) have equal risk for developing cardiovascular disease. We sought to compare the yield of testing for pre-clinical atherosclerosis with various approaches.

Methods: 98 asymptomatic individuals with T2DM without known coronary artery disease (CAD) were enrolled in a prospective study and underwent carotid ultrasound, exercise treadmill testing (ETT), coronary artery calcium (CAC) scoring, and coronary computed tomography angiography (CTA).

Results: Of 98 subjects (average age 55 ± 6, 64 % female), 43 (44 %) had coronary plaque detectable on CTA, and 38 (39 %) had CAC score >0. By CTA, 16 (16 %) had coronary stenosis ≥50 %, including three subjects with CAC = 0. Subjects with coronary plaque had greater prevalence of carotid plaque (58 % vs. 38 %, p = 0.01) and greater carotid intima media thickness (0.80 ± 0.20 mm vs. 0.70 ± 0.11 mm, p = 0.02). Notably, 18 of 55 subjects (33 %) with normal CTA had carotid plaque. Eight subjects had a positive ETT, of whom five had ≥ 50 % coronary stenosis, two had <50 >%stenosis, and one had no CAD. Among these tests, CAC scoring had the highest sensitivity and specificity for prediction of CAD.

Conclusion: Among asymptomatic subjects with T2DM, a majority (56 %) had no CAD by CTA. When compared to CTA, CAC was the most accurate screening modality for detection of CAD, while ETT and carotid ultrasound were less sensitive and specific. However, 33 % of subjects with normal coronary CTA had carotid plaque, suggesting that screening for carotid plaque might better characterize stroke risk in such patients.

Publication Date


Content Type


PubMed ID:


Additional Authors:

Additional authors and institutional affiliations


© 2016 Rassi et al. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver(http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

Open Access

Available to all.