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1.  Elevated Fibrinogen Levels and Subsequent Subclinical Atherosclerosis: The CARDIA Study 
Atherosclerosis  2008;202(2):623-631.
Objective
To determine whether elevated levels of hemostatic factors are associated with the subsequent development of subclinical cardiovascular disease.
Methods
Fibrinogen, factors VII (FVII) and VIII (FVIII), and von Willebrand factor (vWF) were measured in 1396 participants in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study. Coronary artery calcification (CAC) and carotid intimal/medial thickness (CIMT) were determined 13 years later. The adjusted prevalence of CAC and mean CIMT across the quartiles of each hemostatic factor was computed for the total sample and for each race and gender group.
Results
The age, race, and gender-adjusted prevalences of CAC with increasing quartiles of fibrinogen were 14.4%, 15.2%, 20.0%, and 29.1% (p<0.001 for trend). This trend persisted after further adjustment for body mass index (BMI), smoking, educational level, center, systolic blood pressure (BP), diabetes, antihypertensive medication use, total and high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and CRP. A similar trend was observed for CIMT (age, race and gender-adjusted, p<0.001; multivariable-adjusted, p=0.014). Further analyses of race and gender subgroups showed that increasing quartiles of fibrinogen were associated with CAC and CIMT in all subgroups except black men. The prevalence of CAC was not associated with increasing quartiles of FVII, FVIII or vWF, suggesting they may be less involved in plaque progression.
Conclusion
An elevated fibrinogen concentration in persons aged 25 to 37 is independently associated with subclinical cardiovascular disease in the subsequent decade.
doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2008.05.039
PMCID: PMC2662501  PMID: 18602107
hemostatic factors; coronary calcium; carotid thickness; fibrinogen; atherosclerosis
2.  Intakes of long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and fish in relation to measurements of subclinical atherosclerosis 
Background
Data on the relations of different types of fish meals and long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFAs) with measures of atherosclerosis are sparse.
Objective
We examined intakes of long-chain n-3 PUFAs and fish in relation to clinical measures of subclinical atherosclerosis.
Design
A cross-sectional study was conducted in 5,488 multiethnic adults aged 45–84 years and free of clinical cardiovascular disease. Diet was assessed using self-administered food frequency questionnaires. Subclinical atherosclerosis was determined by common carotid intima-media thickness (cCIMT, >80th percentile), internal CIMT (iCIMT, >80th percentile), coronary artery calcium score (CAC, >0) or ankle-brachial index (ABI, <0.90), respectively.
Results
After adjustment for potential confounders, intakes of long-chain n-3 PUFAs and non-fried (broiled, steamed, baked or raw) fish were inversely related to subclinical atherosclerosis determined by cCIMT but not iCIMT, CAC or ABI. The multivariable odds ratio comparing the highest to the lowest quartile of dietary exposures in relation to subclinical atherosclerosis determined by cCIMT was 0.69 (95% CI: 0.55, 0.86; p for trend<0.01) for n-3 PUFA intake, 0.80 (95% CI: 0.64, 1.01; p=0.054) for non-fried fish and 0.90 (95% CI: 0.73, 1.10; p=0.33) for fried fish consumption.
Conclusions
This study indicates that dietary intake of long-chain n-3 PUFAs or non-fried fish is associated with lower prevalence of subclinical atherosclerosis classified by cCIMT although significant changes in iCIMT, CAC and ABI were not observed. Our findings also suggest that the association of fish and atherosclerosis may vary depending on the type of fish meal consumed and the measures of atherosclerosis.
PMCID: PMC4151325  PMID: 18842801
long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids; fish; fish oil; biomarker; subclinical atherosclerosis; multi-ethnicities
3.  Coffee, Decaffeinated Coffee, Caffeine, and Tea Consumption in Young Adulthood and Atherosclerosis Later in Life: The CARDIA Study 
Objective
Determine the association of coffee, decaffeinated coffee, caffeine, and tea consumption in young adulthood with the presence and progression of coronary artery calcified (CAC) plaque and carotid intima-media thickness (cIMT) later in life.
Methods and Results
CARDIA is a cohort of 5115 white and black adults who were 18–30 years when they completed a baseline clinic examination in 1985–1986. Subsequent examinations were conducted 2, 5, 7, 10, 15, and 20 years later. After multivariable adjustment, no association was observed between average coffee, decaffeinated coffee, or caffeine consumption (years 0 and 7) and presence of CAC [score >0 Agatston units (AU) at year 15 or 20], CAC progression (incident CAC at year 20 or an increase in CAC score ≥20 AU), or high cIMT (>80th percentile, year 20). Tea consumption, however, displayed a non-significant trend for an inverse association with CAC (ptrend0.08) and an inverse association with CAC progression (ptrend0.04), but no association with high cIMT (ptrend>0.2). Stratification of the coffee analyses by sex, race, or smoking yielded similar non-significant patterns.
Conclusion
We observed no substantial association between coffee or caffeine intake and coronary and carotid atherosclerosis. However, our results suggested an inverse association between tea and CAC, but not carotid atherosclerosis.
doi:10.1161/ATVBAHA.110.208280
PMCID: PMC2940975  PMID: 20616310
antioxidants; atherosclerosis; carotid arteries; diet; epidemiology; nutrition
4.  The Association Between A1C and Subclinical Cardiovascular Disease 
Diabetes Care  2009;32(9):1727-1733.
OBJECTIVE
To test the hypothesis that A1C is associated with subclinical cardiovascular disease (CVD) in a population without evident diabetes, after adjusting for traditional CVD risk factors and BMI.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
This was a cross-sectional study of 5,121 participants without clinically evident CVD or diabetes (fasting glucose ≥7.0 mmol/l or use of diabetes medication), aged 47–86 years, enrolled in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Measurements included carotid intimal-medial wall thickness (CIMT) and coronary artery calcification (CAC). Results were adjusted for age, sex, ethnicity, smoking, systolic blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, antihypertensive medication use, lipid-lowering medication use, and BMI.
RESULTS
Compared with those in the lowest quartile for A1C ([mean ± SD] 5.0 ± 0.2%), participants in the highest quartile (6.0 ± 0.3%) had higher adjusted mean values for common CIMT (0.85 vs. 0.87 mm, P = 0.003) and internal CIMT (1.01 vs. 1.08 mm, P = 0.003). A1C quartile was not associated with prevalence of CAC in the entire cohort (P = 0.27); however, the association was statistically significant in women (adjusted prevalence of CAC in lowest and highest A1C quartiles 37.5 vs. 43.0%, P = 0.01). Among those with some CAC, higher A1C quartile tended to be associated with higher CAC score, but the results were not statistically significant (adjusted P = 0.11).
CONCLUSIONS
In this multiethnic cohort, there were small, positive associations between A1C, common CIMT, and internal CIMT in the absence of clinically evident diabetes. An association between higher A1C and CAC prevalence was evident only in women.
doi:10.2337/dc09-0074
PMCID: PMC2732160  PMID: 19549732
5.  Racial differences in the burden of coronary artery calcium and carotid intima media thickness between Blacks and Whites 
Netherlands Heart Journal  2014;23(1):44-51.
Background
Identification of racial differences in the burden and correlates of carotid intima media thickness (CIMT) and coronary artery calcium (CAC) may provide the basis for the development of race-specific cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk prediction algorithms.
Methods
In the Heart Strategies Concentrating on Risk Evaluation (Heart SCORE) study, CIMT was measured by carotid ultrasonography in 792 individuals (35 % Black). CIMT >1 mm was considered significant. CAC was quantified by electron beam computed tomography in 776 individuals (46 % Black). CAC was considered significant if the Agatston score was >100. Cross-sectional associations between race, CIMT and CAC were assessed using logistic regression models.
Results
Blacks had greater CIMT (mean difference 0.033 mm, 95 % CI 0.005–0.06 mm; p = 0.02) and 1.5-fold (95 % CI 1.0–2.3) higher odds of having significant CIMT than Whites. Blacks had less CAC than Whites (mean Agatston score difference 66, [11–122]; p = 0.02) and 50 % lower odds of a significant CAC score compared with Whites (0.5 [0.3–0.7]). These associations were virtually unchanged after adjustment for CVD risk factors. Of the novel CVD risk markers assessed, small-dense low-density lipoprotein was independently associated with increased odds of significant CIMT, with the association being similar among Blacks and Whites (odds ratio [95 % CI]: 1.7 [1.2–2.5] and 1.4 [1.0–1.8] per 1-SD higher level, respectively). Interleukin-6 was significantly associated with CAC among Blacks (1.4 [1.0–2.0]).
Conclusion
Black race is independently associated with greater CIMT but less CAC than White race. CVD risk stratification strategies that incorporate these measures of subclinical atherosclerosis should consider race-specific algorithms.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s12471-014-0610-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s12471-014-0610-4
PMCID: PMC4268220  PMID: 25342280
Carotid intima media thickness; Coronary artery calcium; Subclinical atherosclerosis; Racial-disparity; Risk factor; Observational study
6.  Association Between Duration of Overall and Abdominal Obesity Beginning in Young Adulthood and Coronary Artery Calcification in Middle Age 
JAMA  2013;310(3):280-288.
IMPORTANCE
Younger individuals are experiencing a greater cumulative exposure to excess adiposity over their lifetime. However, few studies have determined the consequences of long-term obesity.
OBJECTIVE
To examine whether the duration of overall and abdominal obesity was associated with the presence and 10-year progression of coronary artery calcification (CAC), a subclinical predictor of coronary heart disease.
DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS
Prospective study of 3275 white and black adults aged 18 to 30 years at baseline in 1985–1986 who did not initially have overall obesity (body mass index [BMI] ≥30) or abdominal obesity (men: waist circumference [WC] >102 cm; women: >88 cm) in the multicenter, community-based Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study. Participants completed computed tomography scanning for the presence of CAC during the 15-, 20-, or 25-year follow-up examinations. Duration of overall and abdominal obesity was calculated using repeat measurements of BMI and WC, respectively, performed 2, 5, 7, 10, 15, 20, and 25 years after baseline.
MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES
Presence of CAC was measured by computed tomography at the year 15 (2000–2001), year 20 (2005–2006), or year 25 (2010–2011) follow-up examinations. Ten-year progression of CAC (2000–2001 to 2010–2011) was defined as incident CAC in 2010–2011 or an increase in CAC score of 20 Agatston units or greater.
RESULTS
During follow-up, 40.4% and 41.0% developed overall and abdominal obesity, respectively. Rates of CAC per 1000 person-years were higher for those who experienced more than 20 years vs 0 years of overall obesity (16.0 vs 11.0, respectively) and abdominal obesity (16.7 vs 11.0). Approximately 25.2% and 27.7% of those with more than 20 years of overall and abdominal obesity, respectively, experienced progression of CAC vs 20.2% and 19.5% of those with 0 years. After adjustment for BMI or WC and potential confounders, the hazard ratios for CAC for each additional year of overall or abdominal obesity were 1.02 (95% CI, 1.01–1.03) and 1.03 (95% CI, 1.02–1.05), respectively. The adjusted odds ratios for CAC progression were 1.04 (95% CI, 1.01–1.06) and 1.04 (95% CI, 1.01–1.07), respectively. Associations were attenuated but largely persisted following additional adjustment for potential intermediate metabolic factors during follow-up.
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE
Longer duration of overall and abdominal obesity was associated with subclinical coronary heart disease and its progression through midlife independent of the degree of adiposity. Preventing or at least delaying the onset of obesity in young adulthood may lower the risk of developing atherosclerosis through middle age.
doi:10.1001/jama.2013.7833
PMCID: PMC4226407  PMID: 23860986
7.  Longitudinal association between toenail selenium levels and measures of subclinical atherosclerosis: the CARDIA trace element study 
Atherosclerosis  2010;210(2):662-667.
Objectives
To examine the longitudinal association between toenail selenium levels and sub-clinical atherosclerosis over an 18-year period.
Methods
Toenail selenium concentrations were examined among 3112 Americans age 20–32 years in 1987 and measured by instrumental neutron-activation analysis. Subclinical atherosclerosis, including common, bulb and internal carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT), was measured in 2005 and coronary artery calcium (CAC) score in 2000 and 2005. General linear regression was developed examining the relation between toenail selenium levels and CIMTs, and logistic regression for repeated outcomes was employed estimating the risk of having CAC>0.
Results
After adjustment for potential confounders, no associations were observed between toenail selenium levels and CIMTs as well as CAC score. Comparing participants in the highest with the lowest quintile of selenium, the CIMT was 0.005mm (SE=0.008mm, Ptrend=0.39), 0.018mm (SE=0.019mm, Ptrend=0.49), and 0.017mm (SE=0.014mm, Ptrend=0.21) thicker measured in common, bulb and internal carotid, respectively. The adjusted odds ratio of having CAC>0 was 0.95 (95%CI: 0.67–1.35; Ptrend=0.999).
Conclusions
No associations were observed between toenail selenium and measures of subclinical atherosclerosis among American young adults. This study does not support an atherosclerotic mechanism of selenium for risk reduction of cardiovascular disease.
doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2010.01.021
PMCID: PMC2878843  PMID: 20138620
toenail selenium; biomarker; sub-clinical atherosclerosis; carotid intima-media thickness; coronary artery calcium
8.  Factors Associated with Presence and Extent of Coronary Calcium in Individuals Predicted to be at Low Risk Based on Framingham Risk Score (From The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis) 
The American journal of cardiology  2011;107(6):879-885.
Even among asymptomatic people at low risk (<10%) by Framingham Risk Score (FRS), high coronary artery calcium (CAC) scores signify higher predicted risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) events. We sought to determine non-invasive factors (without radiation exposure) significantly associated with CAC in low-risk, asymptomatic persons. In a cross-sectional analysis, we studied 3046 participants from MESA at low 10-year predicted risk (FRS <10%) for CHD events. Multivariable logistic regression was used to assess the association of novel markers with presence of any CAC (CAC >0) and advanced CAC (CAC ≥ 300). CAC >0 and CAC ≥ 300 were present in 30% and 3.5% of participants, respectively. Factor VIIIc, fibrinogen and sICAM were each associated with CAC presence (P ≤ 0.02); and C-reactive protein, D-dimer and carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) with advanced CAC (P ≤ 0.03). The base model combining traditional risk factors had excellent discrimination for advanced CAC (C-statistic, 0.808). Addition of the 2 best-fit models combining biomarkers plus/minus CIMT improved the c-statistics to 0.822 and 0.820, respectively. All 3 models calibrated well, but were similar in estimating individual risk probabilities for advanced CAC (prevalence = 9.97%, 10.63% and 10.10% in the highest quartiles of predicted probabilities versus 0.26%, 0.26% and 0.26% in the lowest quartiles, respectively). In conclusion, in low risk individuals, traditional risk factors alone predicted advanced CAC with high discrimination and calibration. Biomarker combinations +/− CIMT were also significantly associated with advanced CAC, but improvement in prediction and estimation of clinical risk were modest compared to traditional risk factors alone.
doi:10.1016/j.amjcard.2010.10.072
PMCID: PMC3182475  PMID: 21376929
coronary calcium; biomarkers; novel markers; low-risk; risk factors
9.  Self-Reported Menopausal Symptoms, Coronary Artery Calcification and Carotid Intima-Media Thickness in Recently Menopausal Women Screened for the Kronos Early Estrogen Prevention Study (KEEPS) 
Fertility and sterility  2013;99(5):1385-1391.
Objective
To determine whether self-reported menopausal symptoms are associated with measures of subclinical atherosclerosis.
Setting
Multi-center, randomized controlled trial.
Patients
Recently menopausal women (n=868) screened for the Kronos Early Estrogen Prevention Study (KEEPS).
Design
Cross sectional analysis.
Interventions
None
Main Outcome Measures
Baseline menopausal symptoms (hot flashes, dyspareunia, vaginal dryness, night sweats, palpitations, mood swings, depression, insomnia, irritability), serum estradiol (E2) levels and measures of atherosclerosis were assessed. Atherosclerosis was quantified using Coronary Artery Calcium (CAC) Agatston scores (n=771) and Carotid Intima-Media Thickness (CIMT). Logistic regression model of menopausal symptoms and E2 was used to predict CAC. Linear regression model of menopausal symptoms and E2 was used to predict CIMT. Correlation between length of time in menopause with menopausal symptoms, estradiol (E2), CAC, and CIMT were assessed.
Results
In early menopausal women screened for KEEPS, neither E2 nor climacteric symptoms predicted the extent of subclinical atherosclerosis. Palpitations (p=0.09) and depression (p=0.07) approached significance as predictors of CAC. Other symptoms of insomnia, irritability, dyspareunia, hot flashes, mood swings, night sweats, and vaginal dryness were not associated with CAC. Women with significantly elevated CAC scores were excluded from further participation in KEEPS; in women meeting inclusion criteria, neither baseline menopausal symptoms nor E2 predicted CIMT. Years since menopause onset correlated with CIMT, dyspareunia, vaginal dryness and E2.
Conclusions
Self-reported symptoms in recently menopausal women are not strong predictors of subclinical atherosclerosis. Continued follow-up of this population will be performed to determine if baseline or persistent symptoms in the early menopause are associated with progression of cardiovascular disease.
doi:10.1016/j.fertnstert.2012.11.053
PMCID: PMC3615128  PMID: 23312232
KEEPS; estrogen; cardiovascular; menopause; CAC; CIMT; palpitations; depression
10.  Subclinical Atherosclerosis is Weakly Associated with Lower Cognitive Function in Healthy Hyperhomocysteinemic Adults without Clinical Cardiovascular Disease 
OBJECTIVE
Atherosclerosis is the most common pathologic process underlying cardiovascular disease (CVD). It is not well known whether subclinical atherosclerosis is an independent risk factor for lower cognitive function among individuals without clinically evident CVD.
METHODS
We examined cross-sectional associations between subclinical atherosclerosis and cognitive function in a community-based sample of otherwise healthy adults with plasma homocysteine ≥8.5 µmol/L enrolled in the BVAIT study (n=504, mean age 61 years). Carotid artery intima-media thickness (CIMT), coronary (CAC) and abdominal aortic calcium (AAC) were used to measure subclinical atherosclerosis. Cognitive function was assessed with a battery of neuropsychological tests. A principal components analysis was used to extract five uncorrelated cognitive factors from scores on individual tests, and a measure of global cognition was derived. Multivariable linear regression was used to examine the association between subclinical atherosclerosis and cognitive function, adjusting for other correlates of cognition.
RESULTS
Increasing thickness of CIMT was associated with significantly lower scores on the verbal learning factor (β = −0.07 per 0.1 mm increase CIMT [SE(β)=0.03], p=0.01). CAC and AAC were not individually associated with any of the cognitive factors.
CONCLUSIONS
This study provides evidence that increasing CIMT is weakly associated with lower verbal learning abilities but not global cognition in a population of otherwise healthy middle-to-older aged adults with elevated plasma homocysteine but without clinically evident CVD. The association between CIMT and poor verbal learning may pertain particularly to men.
doi:10.1002/gps.2134
PMCID: PMC2661006  PMID: 18836986
cognitive function; atherosclerosis; cardiovascular disease; memory; verbal learning
11.  Ten-Year Trends in Coronary Calcification in Individuals without Clinical Cardiovascular Disease in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94916.
Background
Coronary heart disease (CHD) incidence has declined significantly in the US, as have levels of major coronary risk factors, including LDL-cholesterol, hypertension and smoking, but whether trends in subclinical atherosclerosis mirror these trends is not known.
Methods and Findings
To describe recent secular trends in subclinical atherosclerosis as measured by serial evaluations of coronary artery calcification (CAC) prevalence in a population over 10 years, we measured CAC using computed tomography (CT) and CHD risk factors in five serial cross-sectional samples of men and women from four race/ethnic groups, aged 55–84 and without clinical cardiovascular disease, who were members of Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) cohort from 2000 to 2012. Sample sizes ranged from 1062 to 4837. After adjusting for age, gender, and CT scanner, the prevalence of CAC increased across exams among African Americans, whose prevalence of CAC was 52.4% in 2000–02, 50.4% in 2003–04, 60.0% is 2005–06, 57.4% in 2007–08, and 61.3% in 2010–12 (p for trend <0.001). The trend was strongest among African Americans aged 55–64 [prevalence ratio for 2010–12 vs. 2000–02, 1.59 (95% confidence interval 1.06, 2.39); p = 0.005 for trend across exams]. There were no consistent trends in any other ethnic group. Risk factors generally improved in the cohort, and adjustment for risk factors did not change trends in CAC prevalence.
Conclusions
There was a significant secular trend towards increased prevalence of CAC over 10 years among African Americans and no change in three other ethnic groups. Trends did not reflect concurrent general improvement in risk factors. The trend towards a higher prevalence of CAC in African Americans suggests that CHD risk in this population is not improving relative to other groups.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0094916
PMCID: PMC3990562  PMID: 24743658
12.  Associations between retinol-binding protein 4 and cardiometabolic risk factors and subclinical atherosclerosis in recently postmenopausal women: cross-sectional analyses from the KEEPS study 
Background
The published literature regarding the relationships between retinol-binding protein 4 (RBP4) and cardiometabolic risk factors and subclinical atherosclerosis is conflicting, likely due, in part, to limitations of frequently used RBP4 assays. Prior large studies have not utilized the gold-standard western blot analysis of RBP4 levels.
Methods
Full-length serum RBP4 levels were measured by western blot in 709 postmenopausal women screened for the Kronos Early Estrogen Prevention Study. Cross-sectional analyses related RBP4 levels to cardiometabolic risk factors, carotid artery intima-media thickness (CIMT), and coronary artery calcification (CAC).
Results
The mean age of women was 52.9 (± 2.6) years, and the median RBP4 level was 49.0 (interquartile range 36.9-61.5) μg/mL. Higher RBP4 levels were weakly associated with higher triglycerides (age, race, and smoking-adjusted partial Spearman correlation coefficient = 0.10; P = 0.01), but were unrelated to blood pressure, cholesterol, C-reactive protein, glucose, insulin, and CIMT levels (all partial Spearman correlation coefficients ≤0.06, P > 0.05). Results suggested a curvilinear association between RBP4 levels and CAC, with women in the bottom and upper quartiles of RBP4 having higher odds of CAC (odds ratio [95% confidence interval] 2.10 [1.07-4.09], 2.00 [1.02-3.92], 1.64 [0.82-3.27] for the 1st, 3rd, and 4th RBP4 quartiles vs. the 2nd quartile). However, a squared RBP4 term in regression modeling was non-significant (P = 0.10).
Conclusions
In these healthy, recently postmenopausal women, higher RBP4 levels were weakly associated with elevations in triglycerides and with CAC, but not with other risk factors or CIMT. These data using the gold standard of RBP4 methodology only weakly support the possibility that perturbations in RBP4 homeostasis may be an additional risk factor for subclinical coronary atherosclerosis.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov number NCT00154180
doi:10.1186/1475-2840-11-52
PMCID: PMC3461442  PMID: 22587616
Retinol-binding protein 4; Subclinical atherosclerosis; Risk factors; Women
13.  Do Neighborhood Socioeconomic Deprivation and Low Social Cohesion Predict Coronary Calcification? 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2010;172(3):288-298.
Growing evidence suggests that neighborhood characteristics may influence the risk of coronary heart disease. No studies have yet explored associations of neighborhood attributes with subclinical atherosclerosis in younger adult populations. Using data on 2,974 adults (1,699 women, 1,275 men) aged 32–50 years in 2000 from the Coronary Artery Disease Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study and 2000 US Census block-group-level data, the authors estimated multivariable-adjusted associations of neighborhood socioeconomic deprivation and perceived neighborhood cohesion with odds of coronary artery calcification (CAC) 5 years later. Among women, the quartiles of highest neighborhood deprivation and lowest cohesion were associated with higher odds of CAC after adjustment for individual-level demographic and socioeconomic factors (for deprivation, odds ratio = 2.49, 95% confidence interval: 1.22, 5.08 (P for trend = 0.03); for cohesion, odds ratio = 1.87, 95% confidence interval: 1.10, 3.16 (P for trend = 0.02)). Associations changed only slightly after adjustment for behavioral, psychosocial, and biologic factors. Among men, neither neighborhood deprivation nor cohesion was related to CAC. However, among men in deprived neighborhoods, low cohesion predicted higher CAC odds (for interaction between neighborhood deprivation and cohesion, P = 0.03). This study provides evidence on associations of neighborhood deprivation and cohesion with CAC in younger, asymptomatic adults. Neighborhood attributes may contribute to subclinical atherosclerosis.
doi:10.1093/aje/kwq098
PMCID: PMC2917055  PMID: 20610467
atherosclerosis; coronary disease; residence characteristics; risk factors; social environment
14.  Soluble CD14 is independently associated with coronary calcification and extent of subclinical vascular disease in treated HIV infection 
AIDS (London, England)  2014;28(7):969-977.
Objective
To use multimodality imaging to explore the relationship of biomarkers of inflammation, T-cell activation and monocyte activation with coronary calcification and subclinical vascular disease in a population of HIV-infected patients on antiretroviral therapy (ART).
Design
Cross-sectional.
Methods
A panel of soluble and cellular biomarkers of inflammation and immune activation was measured in 147 HIV-infected adults on ART with HIV RNA less than 1000 copies/ml and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) 130 mg/dl or less. We examined the relationship of biomarkers to coronary calcium (CAC) score and multiple ultrasound measures of subclinical vascular disease.
Results
Overall, median (interquartile range, IQR) age was 46 (40–53) years; three-quarters of participants were male and two-thirds African-American. Median 10-year Framingham risk score was 6%. Participants with CAC more than 0 were older, less likely to be African-American and had higher current and lower nadir CD4+ T-cell counts. Most biomarkers were similar between those with and without CAC; however, soluble CD14 was independently associated with CAC after adjustment for traditional risk factors. Among those with a CAC score of zero, T-cell activation and systemic inflammation correlated with carotid intima–media thickness and brachial hyperemic velocity, respectively. Compared with normal participants and those with CAC only, participants with increasing degrees of subclinical vascular disease had higher levels of sCD14, hs-CRP and fibrinogen (all P<0.05).
Conclusion
Soluble CD14 is independently associated with coronary artery calcification, and, among those with detectable calcium, predicts the extent of subclinical disease in other vascular beds. Future studies should investigate the utility of multimodality imaging to characterize vascular disease phenotypes in this population.
doi:10.1097/QAD.0000000000000158
PMCID: PMC4097603  PMID: 24691204
carotid intima–media thickness; coronary artery calcium; endothelial function; HIV; inflammation; microbial translocation; soluble CD14
15.  Associations of Inflammatory Markers with Coronary Artery Calcification: Results from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Atherosclerosis  2009;209(1):226-229.
Objective
Inflammatory markers predict coronary heart disease (CHD). However, associations with coronary artery calcium (CAC), a marker of subclinical CHD, are not established.
Methods
We examined cross-sectional associations of C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6 (IL-6) and fibrinogen with CAC presence (Agatston score > 0 by computed tomography) in 6,783 Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) participants.
Results
In all participants, those in the highest, compared to lowest, quartile of CRP had a relative risk (RR, 95% confidence interval) of 1.13 (1.06-1.19; p<0.01) for CAC in age, sex and ethnicity adjusted models. For highest versus lowest quartiles, relative risks were 1.22 (1.15-1.30; p<0.01) for IL-6 and 1.18 (1.11-1.24; p<0.01) for fibrinogen. Adjusting for CHD risk factors (smoking, diabetes, blood pressure, obesity and dyslipidemia) attenuated RRs. RRs for CAC were 1.05 (0.99-1.12; p=0.63) for CRP, 1.12 (1.06-1.20; p<0.01) for IL-6 and 1.09 (1.02-1.16; p=0.01) for fibrinogen in multivariable adjusted models. Results were similar for men and women and across ethnic groups.
Conclusion
Inflammatory markers were weakly associated with CAC presence and burden in MESA. Our data support the hypothesis that inflammatory biomarkers and CAC reflect distinct pathophysiology.
doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2009.08.037
PMCID: PMC2830357  PMID: 19766217
Atherosclerosis; Calcium; Inflammation; Population
16.  Relationship between Common Carotid Intima-Media Thickness and Thoracic Aortic Calcification: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Atherosclerosis  2009;209(1):142-146.
Background
Mean maximum carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) is associated with both coronary artery disease and cerebral thromboembolism. Thoracic aortic calcification (TAC) detected by computed tomography (CT) is also highly associated with vascular disease and cardiovascular risk. No previous study has examined the relationship between CIMT and TAC in a large patient cohort. We performed a cross-sectional study to determine whether, at baseline, there is a relationship between CIMT and CT-determined TAC score.
Methods
In the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, the study cohort included a population based sample of four ethnic groups (Chinese, White, Hispanic and African-American) of 6814 women and men ages 45-84 years. After exclusion of 198 persons due to incomplete information, we compared results of 6616 participants with both CIMT and TAC. TAC was measured from the lower edge of the pulmonary artery bifurcation to the cardiac apex. CIMT at the common carotid artery site was represented as the mean maximal CIMT of the right and left near and far walls, respectively. Multivariable relative risk regression analysis was used to evaluate relationships between TAC and CIMT.
Results
The prevalence of TAC was 28% (n=1846) and the mean maximum (±SD) CIMT was 0.87±0.19 mm. A higher prevalence of TAC was noted across increasing CIMT quartiles (1st: 12%, 2nd: 21%, 3rd: 30%, 4th: 49%, P<0.0001). One standard deviation increase in CIMT was associated with a 16% higher likelihood for presence of TAC after adjusting for demographics and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors (95% CI: 1.12-1.26). In addition, individuals with CIMT in the highest quartile, as compared to those with CIMT in the first quartile, had a 76% higher likelihood for presence of TAC (prevalence ratio [PR]: 1.76, 95% CI: 1.37-2.26). In race-ethnic stratified analyses, similar associations were seen in all groups. Among those with TAC>0, a higher CIMT was significantly associated with continuous TAC scores (log transformed) in the overall population as well as among all ethnic-racial groups.
Conclusions
Our study demonstrates that TAC is associated with increasing severity of carotid atherosclerotic burden as measured by CIMT. The combined utility of these two noninvasive measures of subclinical atherosclerosis for CVD risk assessment needs to be determined in future studies.
doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2009.09.013
PMCID: PMC2830343  PMID: 19782983
Atherosclerosis; carotid IMT; aortic calcification; ethnic; cardiac CT
17.  Particulate matter components and subclinical atherosclerosis: common approaches to estimating exposure in a Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis cross-sectional study 
Environmental Health  2013;12:39.
Background
Concentrations of outdoor fine particulate matter (PM2.5) have been associated with cardiovascular disease. PM2.5 chemical composition may be responsible for effects of exposure to PM2.5.
Methods
Using data from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) collected in 2000–2002 on 6,256 US adults without clinical cardiovascular disease in six U.S. metropolitan areas, we investigated cross-sectional associations of estimated long-term exposure to total PM2.5 mass and PM2.5 components (elemental carbon [EC], organic carbon [OC], silicon and sulfur) with measures of subclinical atherosclerosis (coronary artery calcium [CAC] and right common carotid intima-media thickness [CIMT]). Community monitors deployed for this study from 2007 to 2008 were used to estimate exposures at baseline addresses using three commonly-used approaches: (1) nearest monitor (the primary approach), (2) inverse-distance monitor weighting and (3) city-wide average.
Results
Using the exposure estimate based on nearest monitor, in single-pollutant models, increased OC (effect estimate [95% CI] per IQR: 35.1 μm [26.8, 43.3]), EC (9.6 μm [3.6,15.7]), sulfur (22.7 μm [15.0,30.4]) and total PM2.5 (14.7 μm [9.0,20.5]) but not silicon (5.2 μm [−9.8,20.1]), were associated with increased CIMT; in two-pollutant models, only the association with OC was robust to control for the other pollutants. Findings were generally consistent across the three exposure estimation approaches. None of the PM measures were positively associated with either the presence or extent of CAC. In sensitivity analyses, effect estimates for OC and silicon were particularly sensitive to control for metropolitan area.
Conclusion
Employing commonly-used exposure estimation approaches, all of the PM2.5 components considered, except silicon, were associated with increased CIMT, with the evidence being strongest for OC; no component was associated with increased CAC. PM2.5 chemical components, or other features of the sources that produced them, may be important in determining the effect of PM exposure on atherosclerosis. These cross-sectional findings await confirmation in future work employing longitudinal outcome measures and using more sophisticated approaches to estimating exposure.
doi:10.1186/1476-069X-12-39
PMCID: PMC3663826  PMID: 23641873
Atherosclerosis; Cardiovascular diseases; Coronary artery disease; Air pollution; Particulate matter
18.  Abdominal Aortic Calcium and Multi-Site Atherosclerosis: The Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Atherosclerosis  2011;214(2):436-441.
Background
Abdominal aortic calcification (AAC) is a measure of subclinical cardiovascular disease (CVD). Data are limited regarding its relation to other measures of atherosclerosis.
Methods
Among 1,812 subjects (49% female, 21% black, 14% Chinese, and 25% Hispanic) within the population-based Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, we examined the cross-sectional relation of AAC with coronary artery calcium (CAC), ankle brachial index (ABI), and carotid intimal medial thickness (CIMT), as well as multiple measures of subclinical CVD.
Results
AAC prevalence ranged from 34% in those aged 45–54 to 94% in those aged 75–84 (p<0.0001), was highest in Caucasians (79%) and lowest in blacks (62%) (p<0.0001). CAC prevalence, mean maximum CIMT ≥ 1 mm, and ABI<0.9 was greater in those with vs. without AAC: CAC 60% vs 16%, CIMT 38% vs 7%, and ABI 5% vs 1% for women and CAC 80% vs 37%, CIMT 43% vs 16%, and ABI 4% vs 2% for men (p<0.01 for all except p<0.05 for ABI in men). The presence of multi-site atherosclerosis (≥ 3 of the above) ranged from 20% in women and 30% in men (p<0.001), was highest in Caucasians (28%) and lowest in Chinese (16%) and ranged from 5% in those aged 45–54 to 53% in those aged 75–84 (p<0.01 to p<0.001). Finally, increased AAC was associated with 2 to 3-fold relative risks for the presence of increased CIMT, low ABI, or CAC.
Conclusions
AAC is associated with an increased likelihood of other vascular atherosclerosis. Its additive prognostic value to these other measures is of further interest.
doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2010.09.011
PMCID: PMC3040451  PMID: 21035803
atherosclerosis; calcification; cardiovascular disease; epidemiology
19.  The Associations of Fetuin-A with Subclinical Cardiovascular Disease in Community-Dwelling Persons: the Rancho Bernardo Study 
Objective
To determine the association of fetuin-A with subclinical CVD in community-living individuals.
Background
Fetuin-A is a hepatic secretory protein that inhibits arterial calcium deposition in vitro. Lower fetuin-A levels are associated with arterial calcification and death in end-stage renal disease populations. The association of fetuin-A with subclinical cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the general population is unknown.
Methods
Among 1,375 community-living individuals without prevalent clinical CVD, we measured plasma fetuin-A concentrations measured by ELISA. Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) was defined by ankle brachial index (ABI) < 0.90, coronary artery calcification (CAC) was measured by computed tomography, and common and internal intima media thickness (cIMT) were measured by carotid ultrasound. PAD was measured concurrent with fetuin-A, and CAC and cIMT was measured 4.6 years (mean) later.
Results
Mean age was 70 ± 11 years and 64% were female. Fetuin-A levels were inversely associated with CAC severity. When evaluated as CAC categories (0, 1–100, 101–300, > 300) using ordinal logistic regression, each standard deviation higher fetuin-A was associated with a 31% lower odds of CAC severity (proportional odds ratio [POR] 0.69; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.46, 0.92; p=0.008) in models adjusted for demographics, lifestyle factors, traditional CVD risk factors and kidney function. In contrast, no association of fetuin-A was observed with PAD or high common or internal cIMT in adjusted models.
Conclusions
Lower fetuin-A levels are independently associated with greater CAC severity, but not PAD or cIMT. If confirmed, fetuin-A may mark calcium deposition within the vasculature, but not atherosclerosis per se.
doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2011.08.035
PMCID: PMC3224791  PMID: 22115642
Fetuin-A; Cardiovascular Disease; Coronary Artery Calcification
20.  Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels are not associated with subclinical vascular disease or C-reactive protein in the Old Order Amish 
Calcified tissue international  2009;84(3):195-202.
Background
The relationship between vitamin D metabolites and subclinical vascular disease is controversial. Because low serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] have been associated with many cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors, we hypothesized that serum 25(OH)D levels would be inversely associated with inflammation as measured by C-reactive protein (CRP) and with subclinical vascular disease as measured by carotid intimal medial thickness (cIMT) and coronary artery calcification (CAC).
Methods
We measured 25(OH)D levels in 650 Amish participants. CAC was measured by computed tomography, and cIMT by ultrasound. The associations of 25(OH)D levels with natural log(CAC+1), cIMT, and natural log(CRP) levels were estimated following adjustment for age, sex, family structure, and season of examination. Additional analyses were carried out adjusting for body mass index (BMI) and other CVD risk factors.
Results
25(OH)D deficiency (<20 ng/ml) and insufficiency (21-30 ng/ml) were common among the Amish (38.2% and 47.7%, respectively). 25(OH)D levels were associated with season, age, BMI, and parathyroid hormone levels. In neither the minimally or fully adjusted analyses were significant correlations observed between 25(OH)D levels and CAC, cIMT, or CRP (R2 < 0.01 for all).
Conclusion
Contrary to our hypothesis, this study failed to detect a cross-sectional association between serum 25(OH)D levels and CAC, cIMT, or CRP. Either there is no causal relationship between 25(OH)D and CVD risk, or, if there is, it may be mediated through mechanisms other than subclinical vascular disease severity.
doi:10.1007/s00223-008-9209-3
PMCID: PMC2908302  PMID: 19148561
21.  Longitudinal association between serum urate and subclinical atherosclerosis: the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study 
Journal of internal medicine  2013;274(6):10.1111/joim.12120.
Objective
The aim of the present study was to determine whether serum urate (sUA) concentration is positively associated with subclinical atherosclerosis, independent of body mass index (BMI), among generally healthy adults.
Design and setting
The CARDIA study followed 5115 black and white individuals aged 18–30 years in 1985–1986 (year 0). Subclinical atherosclerosis comprised coronary artery calcified plaque (CAC; years 15, 20 and 25) and maximum common carotid intima–media thickness (IMT; year 20). sUA (years 0, 10, 15 and 20) was modelled as gender-specific quartiles that were pooled. Discrete-time hazard regressions and generalized linear regressions were used for analyses.
Results
Mean sUA concentration was lower in women than in men, and increased with age. Adjusting for demographic and lifestyle factors, the highest versus lowest quartile of sUA at year 0 was associated with a 44% [95% confidence interval (CI) 20%, 73%] greater risk of CAC progression from year 15 to 25 (Ptrend < 0.001), which was attenuated by adjustment for BMI at year 0 (Ptrend = 0.45). A stronger association was found between sUA at year 15 and CAC progression at year 20 or 25 (hazard ratio 2.07, 95% CI 1.66, 2.58 for the highest versus lowest sUA quartile Ptrend < 0.001), which was attenuated but remained significant with additional adjustment for BMI at year 15 (Ptrend = 0.01). A greater increment in sUA concentration from year 0 to year 15, independent of change in BMI, was related to a higher risk of CAC progression (Ptrend < 0.001). Similar associations were found between sUA and IMT, but only in men.
Conclusion
sUA may be an early biomarker for subclinical atherosclerosis in young adults; starting in early middle age, sUA predicts subclinical atherosclerosis independently of BMI.
doi:10.1111/joim.12120
PMCID: PMC3825786  PMID: 23952533
calcified plaque; intima–media thickness; subclinical atherosclerosis; urate; uric acid
22.  Impact of Subclinical Atherosclerosis on Cardiovascular Disease Events in Individuals With Metabolic Syndrome and Diabetes 
Diabetes Care  2011;34(10):2285-2290.
OBJECTIVE
While metabolic syndrome (MetS) and diabetes confer greater cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, recent evidence suggests that individuals with these conditions have a wide range of risk. We evaluated whether screening for coronary artery calcium (CAC) and carotid intimal-medial thickness (CIMT) can improve CVD risk stratification over traditional risk factors (RFs) in people with MetS and diabetes.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
We assessed CAC and CIMT in 6,603 people aged 45–84 years in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Cox regression examined the association of CAC and CIMT with coronary heart disease (CHD) and CVD over 6.4 years in MetS and diabetes.
RESULTS
Of the subjects, 1,686 (25%) had MetS but no diabetes and 881 (13%) had diabetes. Annual CHD event rates were 1.0% among MetS and 1.5% for diabetes. Ethnicity and RF-adjusted hazard ratios for CHD for CAC 1–99 to ≥400 vs. 0 in subjects with neither MetS nor diabetes ranged from 2.6 to 9.5; in those with MetS, they ranged from 3.9 to 11.9; and in those with diabetes, they ranged from 2.9 to 6.2 (all P < 0.05 to P < 0.001). Findings were similar for CVD. CAC increased the C-statistic for events (P < 0.001) over RFs and CIMT in each group while CIMT added negligibly to prediction over RFs.
CONCLUSIONS
Individuals with MetS or diabetes have low risks for CHD when CAC or CIMT is not increased. Prediction of CHD and CVD events is improved by CAC more than by CIMT. Screening for CAC or CIMT can stratify risk in people with MetS and diabetes and support the latest recommendations regarding CAC screening in those with diabetes.
doi:10.2337/dc11-0816
PMCID: PMC3177707  PMID: 21844289
23.  Circulating CD34+ Cell Count is Associated with Extent of Subclinical Atherosclerosis in Asymptomatic Amish Men, Independent of 10-Year Framingham Risk 
Background
Bone-marrow derived progenitor cells (PCs) may play a role in maintaining vascular health by actively repairing damaged endothelium. The purpose of this study in asymptomatic Old Order Amish men (n = 90) without hypertension or diabetes was to determine if PC count, as determined by CD34+ cell count in peripheral blood, was associated with 10-year risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and measures of subclinical atherosclerosis.
Methods and Results
CD34+ cell count by fluorescence-activated cell sorting, coronary artery calcification (CAC) by electron beam computed tomography, and CVD risk factors were obtained. Carotid intimal-medial thickness (CIMT) also was obtained in a subset of 57 men. After adjusting for 10-year CVD risk, CD34+ cell count was significantly associated with CAC quantity (p = 0.03) and CIMT (p < 0.0001). A 1-unit increase in natural-log transformed CD34+ cell count was associated with an estimated 55.2% decrease (95% CI: −77.8% to −9.3%) in CAC quantity and an estimated 14.3% decrease (95% CI: −20.1% to −8.1%) in CIMT.
Conclusions
Increased CD34+ cell count was associated with a decrease in extent of subclinical atherosclerosis in multiple arterial beds, independent of 10-year CVD risk. Further investigations of associations of CD34+ cell count with subclinical atherosclerosis in asymptomatic individuals could provide mechanistic insights into the atherosclerotic process.
PMCID: PMC2856343  PMID: 20407620
atherosclerosis; carotid arteries; coronary artery calcification; epidemiology; risk factors
24.  Circulating CD34+ Cell Count is Associated with Extent of Subclinical Atherosclerosis in Asymptomatic Amish Men, Independent of 10-Year Framingham Risk 
Background:
Bone-marrow derived progenitor cells (PCs) may play a role in maintaining vascular health by actively repairing damaged endothelium. The purpose of this study in asymptomatic Old Order Amish men (n = 90) without hypertension or diabetes was to determine if PC count, as determined by CD34+ cell count in peripheral blood, was associated with 10-year risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and measures of subclinical atherosclerosis.
Methods and Results:
CD34+ cell count by fluorescence-activated cell sorting, coronary artery calcification (CAC) by electron beam computed tomography, and CVD risk factors were obtained. Carotid intimal-medial thickness (CIMT) also was obtained in a subset of 57 men. After adjusting for 10-year CVD risk, CD34+ cell count was significantly associated with CAC quantity (p = 0.03) and CIMT (p < 0.0001). A 1-unit increase in natural-log transformed CD34+ cell count was associated with an estimated 55.2% decrease (95% CI: −77.8% to −9.3%) in CAC quantity and an estimated 14.3% decrease (95% CI: −20.1% to −8.1%) in CIMT.
Conclusions:
Increased CD34+ cell count was associated with a decrease in extent of subclinical atherosclerosis in multiple arterial beds, independent of 10-year CVD risk. Further investigations of associations of CD34+ cell count with subclinical atherosclerosis in asymptomatic individuals could provide mechanistic insights into the atherosclerotic process.
PMCID: PMC2856343  PMID: 20407620
atherosclerosis; carotid arteries; coronary artery calcification; epidemiology; risk factors
25.  Self-reported and accelerometer physical activity levels and coronary artery calcification progression in older women: Results from the Healthy Women Study 
Menopause (New York, N.Y.)  2013;20(2):152-161.
Objective
Regardless of the well-supported biological link between PA and atherosclerosis, most previous studies report a null association between PA and CAC. To examine the relation between physical activity (PA) and coronary artery calcification (CAC) progression in 148 Healthy Women Study (HWS) participants over 28 years of observation.
Methods
The HWS was designed to examine cardiovascular risk factor changes from pre- to post-menopause. Based on CAC scores collected at two follow-up visits (EBT1 and EBT4) scheduled 12 years apart, participants were classified into one of three groups: 1) no detectable CAC (n=37; 0 CAC at both visits), 2) incident CAC (n=46; 0 CAC at the first- and >0 CAC at the last- visit), or 3) prevalent CAC (n=65; >0 CAC at both visits). PA data were collected regularly throughout the study using self-report questionnaires and accelerometers at EBT4.
Results
The percentage of HWS participants with no detectible CAC decreased from 56.1% at EBT1 to 25.0% at EBT4. Time spent per day in accumulated and bouts of moderate- to vigorous-intensity (MV)PA were each significantly higher in the no detectable CAC group when compared to the prevalent CAC group (both p≤.01). After covariate adjustment, these differences remained statistically significant (both p<.05). Although self-reported summary estimates collected throughout the study were significantly associated with accelerometer data at EBT4, there were no significant differences in self-reported physical activity levels by CAC groups after covariate adjustment.
Conclusions
Study findings suggest that low levels of accelerometer-derived MVPA may be indicative of subclinical disease in older women.
doi:10.1097/gme.0b013e31826115af
PMCID: PMC3897237  PMID: 22914209
coronary heart disease; motor activity; ambulatory monitoring; coronary calcification; women

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