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1.  Elevated Fibrinogen Levels and Subsequent Subclinical Atherosclerosis: The CARDIA Study 
Atherosclerosis  2008;202(2):623-631.
To determine whether elevated levels of hemostatic factors are associated with the subsequent development of subclinical cardiovascular disease.
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.
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.
An elevated fibrinogen concentration in persons aged 25 to 37 is independently associated with subclinical cardiovascular disease in the subsequent decade.
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 
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.
We examined intakes of long-chain n-3 PUFAs and fish in relation to clinical measures of subclinical atherosclerosis.
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.
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.
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.  Impact of Subclinical Atherosclerosis on Cardiovascular Disease Events in Individuals With Metabolic Syndrome and Diabetes 
Diabetes Care  2011;34(10):2285-2290.
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.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3177707  PMID: 21844289
4.  Genetic ancestry is associated with subclinical cardiovascular disease in African Americans and Hispanics from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) 
Differences in cardiovascular disease (CVD) burden exist among racial/ethnic groups in the United States, with African Americans having the highest prevalence. Subclinical CVD measures have also been shown to differ by race/ethnicity. In the United States, there has been significant intermixing among racial/ethnic groups creating admixed populations. Very little research exists on the relationship of genetic ancestry and subclinical CVD measures.
Methods and Results
These associations were investigated in 712 African-American and 705 Hispanic participants from the MESA candidate gene sub-study. Individual ancestry was estimated from 199 genetic markers using STRUCTURE. Associations of ancestry and coronary artery calcium (CAC) and common and internal carotid intima media thickness (cIMT) were evaluated using log-binomial and linear regression models. Splines indicated linear associations of ancestry with subclinical CVD measures in African-Americans, but presence of threshold effects in Hispanics. Among African Americans, each standard deviation (SD) increase in European ancestry was associated with an 8% (95% CI (1.02, 1.15), p=0.01) greater CAC prevalence. Each SD increase in European ancestry was also associated with a 2% (95% CI (−3.4%, −0.5%), p=0.008) lower common cIMT in African Americans. Among Hispanics, the highest tertile of European ancestry was associated with a 34% greater CAC prevalence, p=0.02 as compared to lowest tertile.
The linear association of ancestry and subclinical CVD suggests that genetic effects may be important in determining CAC and cIMT among African-Americans. Our results also suggest that CAC and common cIMT may be important phenotypes for further study with admixture mapping.
PMCID: PMC2795643  PMID: 20031644
atherosclerosis; calcium; ancestry; epidemiology; genetics
5.  Relationship between Common Carotid Intima-Media Thickness and Thoracic Aortic Calcification: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Atherosclerosis  2009;209(1):142-146.
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.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC2830343  PMID: 19782983
Atherosclerosis; carotid IMT; aortic calcification; ethnic; cardiac CT
6.  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.
PMCID: PMC3182475  PMID: 21376929
coronary calcium; biomarkers; novel markers; low-risk; risk factors
7.  Mediation of Cardiovascular Risk Factor Effects Through Subclinical Vascular Disease: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
It is unclear to what extent subclinical cardiovascular disease (CVD) such as coronary artery calcium (CAC), carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) and brachial flow mediated dilation (FMD) are mediators of the known associations between traditional cardiovascular risk factors and incident CVD events. We assessed the portion of the effects of risk factors on incident CVD events that are mediated through CAC, CIMT and FMD.
Approach and Results
6355 out of 6814 MESA participants were included. Nonlinear implementation of structural equation modeling (STATA mediation package) were used to assess whether CAC, CIMT or FMD are mediators of the association between traditional risk factors and incident CVD event.
Mean age of 62, with 47% males, 12% diabetics and 13% current smokers. Mean follow up of 7.5 years, 539 CVD events were adjudicated. CAC showed the highest mediation while FMD showed the least. Age had the highest percent of total effect mediated via CAC for CVD outcomes while current cigarette smoking had the least percent of total effect mediated via CAC [percent (95%CI: 80.2(58.8, 126.7) % vs. 10.6(6.1, 38.5) % respectively). BMI showed the highest percent of total effect mediated via CIMT [17.7(11.6, 38.9) %], only a negligible amount of the association between traditional risk factors and CVD was mediated via FMD.
Many of the risk factors for incident CVD (other than age, sex and BMI) showed a modest level of mediation via CAC, CIMT and FMD suggesting that current subclinical CVD markers may not be optimal intermediaries for gauging upstream risk factor modification
PMCID: PMC4329880  PMID: 24876350
8.  Associations of SNPs in ADIPOQ and subclinical cardiovascular disease in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) 
Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.)  2010;19(4):840-847.
Circulating adiponectin has been associated with both clinical and subclinical cardiovascular disease (CVD). Variants of the adiponectin gene (ADIPOQ) are associated with clinical CVD, but little is known about associations with subclinical CVD. We studied the association of 11 ADIPOQ SNPs with common and internal carotid intima media thickness (cIMT), presence of coronary artery calcification (CAC), and CAC scores (in those with CAC) in 2847 participants in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Participants were Caucasian (n=712), African-American (n=712), Chinese (n=718), and Hispanic (n=705). All models were adjusted for age, sex, and field site, and stratified by race/ethnic group. African-Americans with genotypes AG/GG of rs2241767 had 36% greater (95% CI (16%, 59%), p=0.0001) CAC prevalence; they also had a larger common cIMT (p=0.0043). Also in African-Americans, genotypes AG/AA of rs1063537 were associated with a 35% (95% CI (14%, 59%), p=0.0005) greater CAC prevalence. Hispanics with the AA genotype of rs11711353 had a 37% (95% CI (14%, 66%), p=0.0011), greater CAC prevalence compared to those with the GG genotype. Additional adjustment for ancestry in African-American and Hispanic participants did not change the results. No single SNP was associated with subclinical CVD phenotypes in Chinese or Caucasian participants. There appears to be an association between ADIPOQ SNPs and subclinical CVD in African-American and Hispanics. Replication as well as assessment of other ADIPOQ SNPs appears warranted.
PMCID: PMC3510267  PMID: 20930713
9.  HIV and coronary artery calcium score: comparison of the Hawaii Aging with HIV Cardiovascular Study and Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) cohorts 
HIV clinical trials  2015;16(4):130-138.
To determine the association of HIV, immunologic, and inflammatory factors on coronary artery calcium (CAC), a marker of subclinical atherosclerosis.
Cross-sectional study comparing baseline data of males from Hawaii Aging with HIV –Cardiovascular Study (HAHCS) with the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) cohort. The cohorts were pooled to determine effects of HIV on CAC and explore immunologic and inflammatory factors that may explain development of CAC in HIV. Multivariable regression models compared CAC prevalence in HAHCS with MESA adjusting for coronary heart disease (CHD) risk profiles.
We studied 100 men from HAHCS and 2733 men from MESA. Positive CAC was seen in 58% HAHCS participants and 57% MESA participants. Mean CAC was 260.8 in HAHCS and 306.5 in MESA. Using relative risk (RR) regression, HAHCS participants had a greater risk (RR=1.20, P<0.05) of having positive CAC than MESA when adjusting for age, smoking status, diabetes, antihypertensive therapy, BMI, systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, and HDL cholesterol. Among participants with positive CAC, HIV infection was not associated with larger amounts of CAC. Among HAHCS participants, current HIV viral load, CD4, length of HIV, interleukin 6 (IL-6), fibrinogen, C-reactive protein (CRP), and D-dimer were not associated with the presence or amount of CAC.
HIV was independently associated with a positive CAC in men with increased likelihood occurring between 45 and 50 years of age. Current HIV viral load, CD4 count, length of HIV, and inflammatory markers were unrelated to either presence or amount of CAC.
PMCID: PMC4524807  PMID: 26038953
Antiviral therapy; Coronary artery calcium; MESA; Framingham Risk Score
10.  The Association of Coronary Artery Calcification and Carotid Artery Intima-Media Thickness With Distinct, Traditional Coronary Artery Disease Risk Factors in Asymptomatic Adults 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2008;168(9):1016-1023.
Coronary artery calcification (CAC) and common carotid artery intima-media thickness (CIMT) are measures of subclinical vascular disease. This 2000–2006 study aimed to characterize the associations among coronary artery disease risk factors, CAC quantity, and CIMT and to estimate shared genetic and environmental contributions to both CAC and CIMT among 478 asymptomatic Amish adults in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Heritability for CAC quantity and CIMT, adjusted for age and sex, was 0.42 (P = 0.0001) and 0.29 (P = 0.003), respectively. CAC quantity and CIMT were modestly correlated (adjusted r = 0.14, P = 0.003) but showed little evidence of shared genetic or environmental factors. However, significant genetic correlations were found for CAC quantity and total cholesterol (0.44 (standard error, 0.19); P = 0.03), for CAC quantity and low density lipoprotein cholesterol (0.55 (standard error, 0.17); P = 0.005), and for CIMT and waist circumference (0.58 (standard error, 0.25); P = 0.046), suggesting shared genes for these risk factors and measures of subclinical disease. Results suggest that some of the same genes influence variation in CAC and low density lipoprotein cholesterol, whereas a different set of genes influences variation in CIMT and waist circumference.
PMCID: PMC2720772  PMID: 18805900
atherosclerosis; calcification, physiologic; carotid arteries; coronary vessels; genetics; risk factors; vascular diseases
11.  The Associations of Fetuin-A with Subclinical Cardiovascular Disease in Community-Dwelling Persons: the Rancho Bernardo Study 
To determine the association of fetuin-A with subclinical CVD in community-living individuals.
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.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3224791  PMID: 22115642
Fetuin-A; Cardiovascular Disease; Coronary Artery Calcification
12.  Abdominal Aortic Calcium and Multi-Site Atherosclerosis: The Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Atherosclerosis  2011;214(2):436-441.
Abdominal aortic calcification (AAC) is a measure of subclinical cardiovascular disease (CVD). Data are limited regarding its relation to other measures of atherosclerosis.
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.
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.
AAC is associated with an increased likelihood of other vascular atherosclerosis. Its additive prognostic value to these other measures is of further interest.
PMCID: PMC3040451  PMID: 21035803
atherosclerosis; calcification; cardiovascular disease; epidemiology
13.  Comparison of Novel Risk Markers for Improvement in Cardiovascular Risk Assessment in Intermediate Risk Individuals. The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Risk markers including coronary artery calcium (CAC), carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT), ankle-brachial Index (ABI), brachial flow-mediated dilation (FMD), high sensitivity C -reactive protein (hs-CRP) and family history (FH) of coronary heart disease (CHD) have been reported to improve on the Framingham risk score (FRS) for prediction of CHD. However, there are no direct comparisons of these markers for risk prediction in a single cohort.
We compared improvement in prediction of incident CHD/cardiovascular disease (CVD) of these 6 risk markers within intermediate risk participants (5 % < FRS < 20%) in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA).
Design, Setting and Participants
Of 6814 MESA participants from 6 US field centers, 1330 were intermediate risk, without diabetes mellitus, and had complete data on all 6 markers. Recruitment spanned July 2000 to September 2002; follow-up extended through May 2011. Probability- weighted Cox proportional hazard models were used to estimate hazard ratios (HR). Area under the receiver operator characteristic curve (AUC) and net reclassification improvement (NRI) were used to compare incremental contributions of each marker when added to the FRS + race/ethnicity.
Main Outcome Measures
Incident CHD defined as MI, angina followed by revascularization, resuscitated cardiac arrest or CHD death. Incident CVD additionally included stroke or CVD death.
After median follow-up of 7.6 years (IQR 7.3 – 7.8 years), 94 CHD and 123 CVD events occurred. CAC, ABI, hs-CRP and FH were independently associated with incident CHD in multivariable analyses [HR (95%CI: 2.60(1.94-3.50), 0.79(0.66-0.95), 1.28(1.00-1.64) and 2.18(1.38-3.42) respectively]. CIMT and FMD were not associated with incident CHD in multivariable analyses [HR (95%CI) 1.17(0.95- 1.45) and 0.95(0.78 −1.14) respectively]. Although the addition of the markers individually to the FRS +race/ethnicity improved the AUC, CAC afforded the highest increment (0.623 vs. 0.784) while FMD afforded the least [0.623 vs. 0.639]. For incident CHD, the NRI with CAC was 0.659, FMD 0.024, ABI 0.036, CIMT 0.102, FH 0.160 and hs-CRP 0.079. Similar results were obtained for incident CVD.
CAC, ABI, hs-CRP and FH are independent predictors of incident CHD/CVD in intermediate risk individuals. CAC provides superior discrimination and risk reclassification compared with other risk markers.
PMCID: PMC4141475  PMID: 22910756
14.  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.
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.
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.
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]).
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.
PMCID: PMC4268220  PMID: 25342280
Carotid intima media thickness; Coronary artery calcium; Subclinical atherosclerosis; Racial-disparity; Risk factor; Observational study
15.  Longitudinal assessment of fibrinogen in relation to subclinical cardiovascular disease: the CARDIA study 
To examine the strength of the associations of fibrinogen with subclinical atherosclerosis in healthy persons.
A population-based, prospective, observational study of black and white men and women (Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults [CARDIA]). Fibrinogen levels were measured at year 7 (ages 25–37, n = 2969), and again at year 20 (ages 38–50, n = 2832). Measures of subclinical atherosclerosis (coronary artery calcification [CAC] and carotid intimal-medial thickness [CIMT]) were recorded at year 20.
Over the 13-year study interval (1992–1993 to 2005–2006), fibrinogen rose from a mean of 3.32 to 4.05 g L−1. After adjusting for age, gender and race, fibrinogen was positively associated with greater incidence of CAC and increased CIMT cross-sectionally as well as after 13 years of follow-up (all P-trend < 0.001). After further adjustment for field center, BMI, smoking, education, systolic blood pressure, diabetes, antihypertensive medication use, total and HDL cholesterol, and CRP, significant positive relationships between fibrinogen and incidence of CAC remained for the total cohort longitudinally (P-trend = 0.037), but not cross-sectionally (P-trend = 0.147).
This 13-year study demonstrates that higher levels of fibrinogen during young adulthood are positively associated with incidence of CAC and increased CIMT in middle-age, but the strength of the association declines with increasing age.
PMCID: PMC2856753  PMID: 20025644
atherosclerosis; carotid thickening; coronary calcification; fibrinogen
16.  Urine Albumin Creatinine Ratio is Associated with Carotid Atherosclerosis in a Community Based Cohort: Atherosclerosis Risk of Rural Area in Korean General Population Study 
Albuminuria is a surrogate marker of endothelial dysfunction and a predictor of cardiovascular events. Data are limited with regard to the relationship between albuminuria and subclinical atherosclerosis in a community-based cohort. We determined the association between albuminuria measured by the urine albumin creatinine ratio (UACR) and carotid intima media thickness (CIMT) in a Korean rural population.
We enrolled 1,369 healthy subjects older than 40 years (857 males and 518 females) with normal renal function and measured the CIMT. We excluded subjects with overt proteinuria (> 300 mg/day) or with treatment of diabetes mellitus, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and any cardiovascular disease. The subjects were stratified into the quartile value of the UACR (lowest quartile: UACR < 4.8 and highest quartile: UACR > 17.7). And we evaluate the relationship between UACR and CIMT by linear regression and logistic regression analysis.
Increasing quartile of the UACR had a stepwise increase in body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol profile [low density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol and triglyceride], glucose, homeostratic model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), and C-reactive protein (all p values < 0.001). Maximal CIMT from the 1st to the 4th quartile values of the UACR were 0.74 ± 0.17, 0.77 ± 0.18, 0.78 ± 0.18, and 0.82 ± 0.21 mm, respectively (p < 0.001). In a multivariate regression model adjusted for age, sex, systolic blood pressure, triglyceride, LDL-cholesterol, fasting blood sugar, waist circumference, adiponectin, HOMA-IR, high sensitive C-reactive protein, smoking, UACR showed a significant association with maximal CIMT (B = 0.014, R2 = 0.145, p = 0.002).
Albuminuria measured by the UACR was significantly associated with both CIMT and traditional risk factors of atherosclerosis except for smoking in healthy Koreans.
PMCID: PMC3021891  PMID: 21253362
Urine albumin creatinine ratio; Carotid intima-media thickness
17.  Signs of subclinical coronary atherosclerosis in relation to risk factor distribution in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) and the Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study (HNR) 
European Heart Journal  2008;29(22):2782-2791.
Modern imaging technology allows us the visualization of coronary artery calcification (CAC), a marker of subclinical coronary atherosclerosis. The prevalence, quantity, and risk factors for CAC were compared between two studies with similar imaging protocols but different source populations: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) and the Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study (HNR).
Methods and results
The measured CAC in 2220 MESA participants were compared with those in 3126 HNR participants with the inclusion criteria such as age 45–75 years, Caucasian race, and free of baseline cardiovascular disease. Despite similar mean levels of CAC of 244.6 among participants in MESA and of 240.3 in HNR (P = 0.91), the prevalence of CAC > 0 was lower in MESA (52.6%) compared with HNR (67.0%) with a prevalence rate ratio of CAC > 0 of 0.78 [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.72–0.85] after adjustment for known risk factors. Consequently, among participants with CAC > 0, the participants in MESA tended to have higher levels of CAC than those in HNR (ratio of CAC levels: 1.39; 95% CI: 1.19–1.63), since many HNR participants have small (near zero) CAC values.
The CAC prevalence was lower in the United States (MESA) cohort than in the German (HNR) cohort, which may be explained by more favourable risk factor levels among the MESA participants. The predictors for increased levels of CAC were, however, similar in both cohorts with the exception that male gender, blood pressure, and body mass index were more strongly associated in the HNR cohort.
PMCID: PMC2582985  PMID: 18845666
Epidemiology; Atherosclerosis; Coronary artery calcium; Risk factors; Screening
18.  Is Diabetic Retinopathy Related to Subclinical Cardiovascular Disease? 
Ophthalmology  2010;118(5):860-865.
Persons with diabetic retinopathy (DR) have an increased risk of clinical cardiovascular events. Our study aimed to determine whether DR is associated with a range of measures of subclinical cardiovascular disease (CVD) in persons without clinical CVD.
Population-based, cross-sectional epidemiologic study
Nine hundred and twenty seven persons with diabetes without clinical CVD in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis.
DR was ascertained from retinal photographs according to modification of the Airlie House Classification system. Vision threatening DR (VTDR) was defined as severe non-proliferative DR, proliferative DR or clinically significant macular edema. Subclinical CVD measures were assessed and defined as follows: high coronary artery calcium (CAC) score, defined as CAC score≥400; low ankle-brachial index (ABI), defined as ABI<0.9; high ABI, defined as ABI≥1.4; high carotid intima-media thickness (IMT), defined as highest 25% of IMT; and carotid stenosis, defined as >25% stenosis or presence of carotid plaque.
Associations between DR and subclinical CVD measures.
The prevalence of DR and VTDR in this sample was 30.0% and 7.2%, respectively. VTDR was associated with a high CAC score (odds ratio [OR] 2.33, 95% condifence interval [CI] 1.15–4.73), low ABI (OR 2.54; 95%CI, 1.08–5.99) and high ABI (OR 12.6, 95% CI, 1.14, 140.6), after adjusting for risk factors including hemoglobin A1c level and duration of diabetes. The association between VTDR and high CAC score remained significant after further adjustment for hypoglycemic, anti-hypertensive and cholesterol-lowering medications. DR was not significantly associated with measures of carotid artery disease.
In persons with diabetes without a history of clinical CVD, the presence of advanced stage of DR is associated with subclinical coronary artery disease. These findings emphasize the need to be careful about the use of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor for the treatment of DR.
PMCID: PMC3087839  PMID: 21168222
19.  Adult Height and Prevalence of Coronary Artery Calcium: The NHLBI Family Heart Study 
Adult height has been hypothesized to be inversely associated with coronary heart disease but studies have produced conflicting results. We sought to examine the relationship between adult height and the prevalence of coronary artery calcium (CAC), a direct measure of subclinical atherosclerosis and surrogate marker of CHD.
Method and Results
We evaluated the relationship between adult height and CAC in 2,703 participants from the NHLBI Family Heart Study who underwent cardiac computed tomography. We used generalized estimating equations to calculate the prevalence odds ratios for the presence of CAC (CAC>0) across sex-specific quartiles of height. The mean age of the sample was 54.8 years and 60.2% were female. There was an inverse association between adult height and CAC. After adjusting for age, race, field center, waist circumference, smoking, alcohol, physical activity, systolic blood pressure, antihypertensive medications, diabetes, diabetic medications, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, lipid-lowering medications, and income, individuals in the tallest quartile had 30% lower odds of having prevalent CAC. The odds ratios (95% CI) for the presence of CAC across consecutive sex-specific quartiles of height were 1.0 (reference), 1.15 (0.86–1.53), 0.95(0.73–1.22), and 0.70 (0.53–0.93), p for trend <0.01. There was no evidence of effect modification for the relationship between adult height and CAC by age or socioeconomic status.
The results of our study suggest an inverse, independent association between adult height and CAC.
PMCID: PMC3970195  PMID: 24336983
risk factor; imaging; epidemiology
20.  Comparing Coronary Artery Calcium among U.S. South Asians with Four Racial/Ethnic Groups: The MASALA and MESA studies 
Atherosclerosis  2014;234(1):102-107.
South Asians (individuals from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka) have high rates of cardiovascular disease which cannot be explained by traditional risk factors. Few studies have examined coronary artery calcium (CAC) in South Asians.
We created a community-based cohort of South Asians in the United States and compared the prevalence and distribution of CAC to four racial/ethnic groups in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). We compared 803 asymptomatic South Asians free of cardiovascular disease to the four MESA racial/ethnic groups (2,622 Whites, 1,893 African Americans, 1,496 Latinos and 803 Chinese Americans).
The age-adjusted prevalence of any CAC was similar between White and South Asian men, but was lower in South Asian women compared to White women. After adjusting for all covariates associated with CAC, South Asian men were similar to White men and had higher CAC scores compared to African Americans, Latinos and Chinese Americans. In fully adjusted models, CAC scores were similar for South Asian women compared to all women enrolled in MESA. However, South Asian women ≥70 years had a higher prevalence of any CAC than most other racial/ethnic groups.
South Asian men have similarly high CAC burden as White men, but higher CAC than other racial/ethnic groups. South Asian women appear to have similar CAC burden compared to other women, but have somewhat higher CAC burden in older age. The high burden of subclinical coronary atherosclerosis in South Asians may partly explain higher rates of cardiovascular disease in South Asians.
PMCID: PMC4005416  PMID: 24632509
South Asians; ethnic differences; subclinical atherosclerosis; coronary artery calcium
21.  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.
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).
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.
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).
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.
PMCID: PMC2908302  PMID: 19148561
22.  Reduced Kidney Function and Preclinical Atherosclerosis in HIV-Infected Individuals: The Study of Fat Redistribution and Metabolic Change in HIV Infection (FRAM) 
American Journal of Nephrology  2011;33(5):453-460.
Reduced kidney function and albuminuria are associated with higher risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and mortality in HIV-infected individuals. We investigated whether reduced estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) and albuminuria are associated with subclinical vascular disease, as assessed by carotid intima-medial thickness (cIMT).
Cross-sectional analysis of 476 HIV-infected individuals without clinical evidence of CVD enrolled in the Fat Redistribution and Metabolic Change in HIV infection (FRAM) study, using multivariable linear regression. eGFRCys and eGFRCr were calculated from cystatin C and creatinine levels. Albuminuria was defined as a positive urine dipstick (≥1+) or urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio ≥30 mg/g. Common and internal cIMT were measured by high-resolution B-mode ultrasound.
In unadjusted analyses, eGFRCys and eGFRCr were strongly associated with common and internal cIMT. Each 10 ml/min/1.73 m2 decrease in eGFRCys and eGFRCr was associated with a 0.008 mm higher common cIMT (p = 0.003, p = 0.01) and a 0.024 and 0.029 mm higher internal cIMT (p = 0.003), respectively. These associations were eliminated after adjustment for age, gender, and race. Albuminuria showed little association with common or internal cIMT in all models.
In HIV-infected individuals without prior CVD, reduced kidney function and albuminuria were not independently associated with subclinical vascular disease, as assessed by cIMT. These results suggest that research should focus on searching for novel mechanisms by which kidney disease confers cardiovascular risk in HIV-infected individuals.
PMCID: PMC3100378  PMID: 21508633
Cystatin C; Intima-medial thickness; HIV; Atherosclerosis; Cardiovascular disease; Kidney
Whether measuring and reporting of coronary artery calcium scores (CACS) might lead to changes in cardiovascular risk management is not established. In this observational study we examined whether high baseline CACS were associated with the initiation as well continuation of new lipid lowering medication (LLM), blood pressure lowering medication (BPLM) and regular aspirin (ASA) use in a multi-ethnic population-based cohort.
Methods and Results
MESA is a prospective cohort study of 6814 participants free of clinical cardiovascular disease at entry who underwent CAC testing at baseline examination (exam 1). Information on LLM, BPLM and regular ASA usage was also obtained at baseline, and at exams 2 and 3 (average of 1.6 and 3.2 years after baseline respectively). In this study we examined: 1) initiation of these medications at exam 2 among participants not taking these medications at baseline; and 2) continuation of medication use to exam 3 among participants already on medication at baseline. Among MESA participants, initiation of LLM, BPLM and ASA was greater in those with higher CACS After taking into account age, gender, race, MESA site, LDL cholesterol, diabetes mellitus, BMI, smoking status, hypertension, systolic blood pressure, and SES (income, education and health insurance), the risk ratios for medication initiation comparing those with CACS>400 vs. CACS=0 were 1.53 (95% CI: 1.08, 2.15) for LLM, 1.55 (1.10-- 2.17) for BPLM, and 1.32 (1.03–1.69) for ASA initiation, respectively. The risk ratios for medication continuation among those with CAC>400 vs. CACS=0 were 1.10 (95% CI: 1.01–1.20) for LLM, 1.05 (1.02–1.08) for BPLM, and 1.14 (1.04- 1.25) for ASA initiation, respectively.
CACS>400 was associated with a higher likelihood of initiation and continuation of LLM, BPLM and ASA. The association was weaker for continuation than for initiation of these preventive therapies.
PMCID: PMC4402976  PMID: 20371760
Coronary artery calcification; Computed tomography; Medications; Adherence; Prevention
24.  Effect of inter-reader variability on outcomes in studies using carotid intima media thickness quantified by carotid ultrasonography 
European journal of epidemiology  2010;25(6):385-392.
Systematic differences between readers or equipment in imaging studies are not uncommon; failure to account for such differences when using Carotid Ultrasonography may introduce bias into associations between carotid intima media thickness (cIMT) and outcomes. We demonstrate the impact of this source of systematic measurement error (SME) using data on 5,521 participants from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) and 661 participants from the Study of Fat Redistribution and Metabolic Change in HIV Infection (FRAM). Participants were between 37 and 78 years old. Two outcomes were considered: (1) the effect of HIV infection on cIMT (between study) and (2) the association of cIMT with cardiovascular events (within study). All estimates were adjusted for demographics (age, gender, and ethnicity) and for traditional cardiovascular disease risk factors (smoking, blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol). When comparing the FRAM and MESA cohorts to estimate the association of HIV infection on common cIMT, accounting for machine and reader variability (between study variability) reduced the difference associated with HIV infection from +0.080 mm (95% Confidence Interval (CI):0.065–0.095) to +0.037 mm (95% CI:0.003 to 0.072) while internal cIMT declined from +0.254 mm (95% CI:0.205–0.303) to +0.192 mm (95% CI:0.076–0.308). Attenuation of the association between cIMT and cardiovascular endpoints occurred when within study reader variability was not accounted for. The effect of SME due to use of multiple readers or machines is most important when comparisons are made between two different study populations. Within-cohort measurement error dilutes the association with events.
PMCID: PMC3161119  PMID: 20309612
Carotid intima media thickness; Measurement error; Bias; Carotid ultrasonography
25.  Fibroblast Growth Factor-23 and Cardiovascular Disease in the General Population: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Circulation. Heart failure  2014;7(3):409-417.
Fibroblast growth factor-23 (FGF-23) is a phosphate regulatory hormone that directly stimulates left ventricular hypertrophy in experimental models. The role of FGF-23 in cardiovascular disease development in the general population is unclear. We tested associations of FGF-23 with major subclinical and clinical cardiovascular disease outcomes in a large prospective cohort.
Methods and Results
We evaluated 6,547 participants from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) who were initially free of cardiovascular disease. We measured serum FGF-23 using the Kainos immunoassay. The MESA measured left ventricular (LV) mass by magnetic resonance imaging, coronary calcium (CAC) by computed tomography, and carotid intima-medial thickness (IMT) by ultrasound. The MESA adjudicated incident heart failure, coronary heart disease, and stoke by medical record review. After adjustment, the highest FGF-23 quartile was associated with an estimated 2.4 gram greater LV mass (95% CI 0.4, 4.5 greater) and a 26% greater odds of higher CAC scores (95% CI 9% to 46% greater) compared to the lowest quartile. Over 7.5 years follow-up, each 20-pg/mL higher FGF-23 concentration was associated with a 19% greater risk of heart failure (95% CI 3% to 37% greater) and a 14% greater risk of coronary heart disease (95% CI 1% to 28% greater). FGF-23 was not associated with carotid IMT or stroke.
Higher serum FGF-23 concentrations are associated with subclinical cardiac disease and with new heart failure and coronary disease events, but not with carotid IMT or stroke. FGF-23 may be a novel cardiovascular risk factor in the general population.
PMCID: PMC4031265  PMID: 24668259
Fibroblast growth factor-23; FGF-23; left ventricular mass; left ventricular hypertrophy; coronary artery calcium; carotid intima-media thickness; heart failure; coronary heart disease; stroke; cardiovascular disease

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