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1.  Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor Levels Are Associated With Carotid Atherosclerosis 
Background and Purpose
Recent evidence suggests that atherosclerosis is an inflammatory condition. Serum levels of inflammatory markers may serve as measures of the severity of atherosclerosis and risk of stroke. We sought to determine whether tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and TNF receptor levels are associated with carotid plaque thickness.
Methods
The Northern Manhattan Stroke Study is a community-based study of stroke risk factors. For this cross-sectional analysis, inflammatory marker levels, including TNF-α and TNF receptors 1 and 2, were measured by immunoassay in stroke-free community subjects undergoing carotid duplex Doppler ultrasound. Maximal carotid plaque thickness (MCPT) was measured for each subject. Analyses were stratified by age <70 and ≥70 years. Simple and multiple linear regression analyses were used to calculate the association between marker levels and MCPT. Multiple logistic regression was used to calculate odds ratios and 95% CIs for the association of inflammatory markers with MCPT ≥1.5 mm (>75th percentile), after adjustment for demographic and potential medical confounding factors.
Results
The mean age of the 279 subjects was 67.6±8.5 years; 49% were men; 63% were Hispanic, 17% black, and 17% white. Mean values for TNF-α and its receptors were as follows: TNF-α, 1.88±3.97 ng/mL; TNF receptor 1, 2.21±0.99 ng/mL; and TNF receptor 2, 4.85±2.23 ng/mL. Mean MCPT was elevated in those in the highest quartiles compared with lowest quartiles of TNF receptor 1 and 2 (1.24 versus 0.79 mm and 1.23 versus 0.80 mm, respectively). Among those aged <70 years, TNF receptor 1 and 2 were associated with an increase in MCPT (mean difference=0.36 mm, P=0.01 for TNF receptor 1 and mean difference=0.10 mm, P=0.04 for TNF receptor 2). After adjustment for sex, race-ethnicity, hypertension, diabetes mellitus, LDL cholesterol, smoking, and body mass index, associations remained (mean difference=0.36 mm, P=0.001 for TNF receptor 1 and mean difference=0.09 mm, P=0.051 for TNF receptor 2). There was no association for TNF receptors in those aged ≥70 years old and no association for TNF-α in either age group. Among those aged ≥70 years, each unit increase in TNF receptor level increased the odds of the participant’s having MCPT ≥1.5 mm (adjusted odds ratio=4.7; 95% CI, 1.7 to 15.4 for TNF receptor 1; odds ratio=1.9; 95% CI, 1.3 to 2.9 for TNF receptor 2).
Conclusions
Relative elevation in TNF receptor levels, but not TNF-α, is associated with carotid atherosclerosis among individuals aged <70 years in this multiethnic, urban population. Chronic subclinical infection or inflammation may account for this association, and modification of these inflammatory pathways may provide a novel approach to stroke prevention.
doi:10.1161/hs0102.100531
PMCID: PMC2677183  PMID: 11779885
atherosclerosis; cerebrovascular disorders; epidemiology; risk factors
2.  Endothelial dysfunction is associated with carotid plaque: a cross-sectional study from the population based Northern Manhattan Study 
Background
Impaired vascular function occurs early in atherogenesis. Brachial flow mediated dilatation (FMD) is a non-invasive measure of vascular function and may be an important marker of preclinical atherosclerosis. Data on the association between FMD and carotid plaque in multi-ethnic populations are limited. The objective of this study was to determine whether endothelial dysfunction is independently associated with carotid plaque in a community of northern Manhattan.
Methods
In the population-based Northern Manhattan Study (NOMAS), high-resolution B-mode ultrasound images of the brachial and carotid arteries were obtained in 643 stroke-free subjects (mean age 66 years; 55% women; 65% Caribbean-Hispanic, 17% African-American, 16% Caucasian). Brachial FMD was measured during reactive hyperemia. Maximum carotid plaque thickness (MCPT) was measured at the peak plaque prominence.
Results
The mean brachial FMD was 5.78 ± 3.83 %. Carotid plaque was present in 339 (53%) subjects. The mean MCPT was 1.68 ± 0.82 mm, and the 75th percentile was 2.0 mm. Reduced FMD was significantly associated with increased MCPT. After adjusting for demographics, vascular risk factors, and education, each percent of FMD decrease was associated with a significant 0.02 mm increase in MCPT (p = 0.028). In a dichotomous adjusted model, blunted FMD was associated with an increased risk of MCPT ≥ 2.0 mm (OR, 1.11 for every 1% decrease in FMD; 95% CI, 1.03–1.19).
Conclusion
Decreased brachial FMD is independently associated with carotid plaque. Non-invasive evaluation of endothelial dysfunction may be a useful marker of preclinical atherosclerosis and help to individualize cardiovascular risk assessment beyond traditional risk factors.
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-6-35
PMCID: PMC1560160  PMID: 16916467
3.  Vitamin D deficiency is associated with subclinical carotid atherosclerosis: the Northern Manhattan Study 
Purpose
Assess the association of vitamin D deficiency and indices of mineral metabolism with subclinical carotid markers that predict cardiovascular events.
Methods
203 community-dwelling adults (Northern Manhattan Study, age: 68±11, 50–93 yrs) had serum measurements (calcium, phosphorus, 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25OHD], 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D, PTH) and carotid ultrasound (plaque presence, number, maximal carotid plaque thickness [MCPT], intima-media thickness [IMT]).
Results
Adjusting for cardiovascular risk factors, plaque number was associated with phosphorus levels (β=0.39 per unit increase; p=0.02) and calcium-phosphorus product (β=0.36 per 10 unit increase; p=0.03). In those with plaque (N=116; 57%), the association of plaque number with phosphorus and calcium-phosphorus product persisted. In addition, 25OHD was inversely associated with both IMT (β= −0.01 per 10 ng/ml increase; p=0.05) and MCPT (β= −0.10 per 10 ng/ml increase; p=0.03). In a model containing traditional cardiac risk factors and indices of mineral metabolism, 25OHD accounted for 13% of the variance in both IMT and MCPT. Calcium, PTH, and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D levels were not associated with carotid measures.
Conclusion
After adjusting for cardiovascular risk factors and renal function, serum phosphorus and calcium-phosphorus product were associated with greater burden of subclinical carotid atherosclerosis. Low 25OHD levels were associated with increased IMT and MCPT in those with plaque, and 25OHD contributed in a robust manner to the variance in both. These results confirm and extend data on the association of low vitamin D levels with subclinical carotid atherosclerosis. The precise nature of this association and the optimum levels of vitamin D for vascular health remain to be elucidated.
doi:10.1161/STROKEAHA.110.608539
PMCID: PMC3146464  PMID: 21719770
Vitamin D deficiency; parathyroid hormone; carotid plaque; IMT; atherosclerosis
4.  Alcohol intake, carotid plaque, and cognition: the Northern Manhattan Study 
Background and purpose: Moderate alcohol intake has been associated with better cognitive performance, implicating vascular and neurodegenerative processes. Few studies to clarify the importance of vascular disease have included direct measures of atherosclerosis or minority populations at higher risk of vascular disease and dementia.
Methods: The Northern Manhattan Study includes stroke-free community based Hispanic (54%), black (25%), and white (22%) participants. We performed a cross-sectional study of alcohol intake and performance on the Mini Mental State Exam (MMSE) in subjects with sonographic measurement of maximal carotid plaque thickness (MCPT) and adjusted for sociodemographic and vascular risk factors.
Results: The median MMSE score was 27 (interquartile range 24-29; N=2,215). Reported alcohol intake was divided into four groups: never (N=509), past (N=494), <1 drink/week (N=300), 1/week to ≤2 drinks/day (N=796), and >2 drinks/day (N=116). Drinking up to 2 drinks/day was associated with better performance on the MMSE (OR=1.19; 95% CI=1.10-1.26) compared to never drinkers in women (P=<0.0001) but not in men, adjusting for sociodemographic and vascular risk factors. MCPT (mean 1.1 mm; SD 1.2 mm) was not associated with alcohol intake and did not mediate the relationship between alcohol and cognition.
Conclusions: Moderate alcohol consumption was independently associated with better cognitive performance in women from this multiethnic sample. Carotid plaque was not a mediator of this association suggesting alcohol may impact cognition through a separate vascular or degenerative pathway.
doi:10.1161/01.STR.0000217439.73041.b4
PMCID: PMC1447604  PMID: 16601215
cognition; carotid diseases; alcohol intake
5.  Infectious Burden and Risk of Stroke: The Northern Manhattan Study 
Archives of neurology  2009;67(1):33-38.
Background
Common infections may be associated with stroke risk, though no single infection is likely a major independent predictor.
Objective
To determine the association between a composite measure of serologies to common infections (Chlamydia pneumoniae, Helicobacter pylori, cytomegalovirus, Herpes Simplex Virus 1 and 2) and stroke risk in a prospective cohort study.
Design
Prospective cohort followed longitudinally for median 8 years.
Patients
Randomly selected stroke-free participants from a multiethnic urban community.
Setting
Northern Manhattan Study (NOMAS).
Main Outcome measure
Incident stroke and other vascular events.
Results
All five infectious serologies were available from baseline samples in 1625 participants (mean age 68.5 ± 10.1 years; 64.9% women). Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate associations of each positive serology with stroke. Individual parameter estimates were then combined into a weighted index of infectious burden (IB) and used to calculate hazard ratios and confidence intervals (HR, 95% CI) for association with risk of stroke and other outcomes, adjusted for risk factors. Each individual infection was positively though not significantly associated with stroke risk after adjusting for other risk factors. The IB index was associated with an increased risk of all strokes (adjusted HR per standard deviation 1.39, 95% CI 1.02–1.90) after adjusting for demographics and risk factors. Results were similar after excluding those with coronary disease (adjusted HR 1.50, 95% CI 1.05–2.13) and adjusting for inflammatory biomarkers.
Conclusion
A quantitative weighted index of infectious burden was associated with risk of first stroke in this cohort. Future studies are needed to confirm these findings and to further define optimal measures of IB as a stroke risk factor.
doi:10.1001/archneurol.2009.271
PMCID: PMC2830860  PMID: 19901154
6.  Carotid plaque, a subclinical precursor of vascular events 
Neurology  2008;70(14):1200-1207.
Background
Carotid atherosclerosis is a known biomarker associated with future vascular disease. The risk associated with small, nonstenotic carotid plaques is less clear. The objective of this study was to examine the association between maximum carotid plaque thickness and risk of vascular events in an urban multiethnic cohort.
Methods
As part of the population-based Northern Manhattan Study, carotid plaque was analyzed among 2,189 subjects. Maximum carotid plaque thickness was evaluated at the cutoff level of 1.9 mm, a prespecified value of the 75th percentile of the plaque thickness distribution. The primary outcome measure was combined vascular events (ischemic stroke, myocardial infarction, or vascular death).
Results
Carotid plaque was present in 1,263 (58%) subjects. After a mean follow-up of 6.9 years, vascular events occurred among 319 subjects; 121 had fatal or nonfatal ischemic stroke, 118 had fatal or nonfatal myocardial infarction, and 166 died of vascular causes. Subjects with maximum carotid plaque thickness greater than 1.9 mm had a 2.8-fold increased risk of combined vascular events in comparison to the subjects without carotid plaque (hazard ratio, 2.80; 95% CI, 2.04–3.84). In fully adjusted models, this association was significant only among Hispanics. Approximately 44% of the low-risk individuals by Framingham risk score had a 10-year vascular risk of 18.3% if having carotid plaque.
Conclusions
Maximum carotid plaque thickness is a simple and noninvasive marker of subclinical atherosclerosis associated with increased risk of vascular outcomes in a multiethnic cohort. Maximum carotid plaque thickness may be a simple and nonexpensive tool to assist with vascular risk stratification in preventive strategies and a surrogate endpoint in clinical trials.
doi:10.1212/01.wnl.0000303969.63165.34
PMCID: PMC2831775  PMID: 18354078
7.  Elevated Homocysteine and Carotid Plaque Area and Densitometry in the Northern Manhattan Study (NOMAS) 
Background and purpose
Studies have linked elevated homocysteine (tHcy) levels to atherosclerotic carotid plaque development, but data are limited to predominantly white populations. We examined the association between tHcy and carotid plaque burden and morphology in a multi-ethnic cohort.
Methods
In the Northern Manhattan Study, we conducted a cross–sectional analysis among 1327 stroke-free subjects (mean age 66±9, 41% men, 19% black, 62% Hispanic, 17% white) with serum tHcy and ultrasonographic assessment of plaque morphology measured by Gray-Scale Median (GSM) and total plaque area (TPA). GSM and TPA were examined in 4 categories. High and low GSM categories were considered echodense and echolucent plaque respectively and compared to no plaque. Logistic regression models were used to assess the associations of tHcy with GSM and TPA adjusting for demographics, vascular risk factors, renal insufficiency, and B12 deficiency.
Results
The mean tHcy was 9.4±4.8μmol/L (median=8.6). The prevalence of carotid plaque was 57% (52% among Hispanics, 58% black, 70% white). Among those with plaque, the mean TPA was 20.3±20.6 mm2(median=13.6) and mean GSM 90.9±28.5 (median=93.0). The top two tHcy quartiles (vs. quartile 1) had an elevated risk of having either echolucent plaque (tHcy Q3: OR=1.8 (95%CI 1.2–2.8); tHcy Q4: OR=1.9(95% CI 1.2–3.1)) or echodense plaque (tHcy Q3: OR=1.7 (95%CI 1.1–2.7); tHcy Q4 OR=1.9 (95% CI1.2–3.2)). The top two tHcy quartiles were also more likely to be in the highest TPA category (tHcy Q3: OR=1.8 (95%CI 1.1–3.0); tHcy Q4: OR=2.2 (95%CI 1.3–3.7)).
Conclusions
In this population-based multi-ethnic cohort, elevated tHcy was independently associated with plaque morphology and increased plaque area, subclinical markers of stroke risk.
doi:10.1161/STROKEAHA.112.676155
PMCID: PMC3567916  PMID: 23287787
Atherosclerosis; carotid arteries; ultrasonography; plaque area; Gray Scale Median (GSM); echodense plaque; echolucent plaque; homocysteine
8.  Carotid artery plaque and progression of coronary artery calcium: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Background
Carotid and coronary atherosclerosis are associated to each other in imaging and autopsy studies. We evaluated whether carotid artery plaque seen on carotid ultrasound can predict incident coronary artery calcification (CAC).
Materials and Methods
We repeated Agatston calcium score measurements in 5445 participants of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) (mean age 57.9 years; 62.9% female). Internal carotid artery lesions were graded as 0%, 1-24%, >25% diameter narrowing and intima-media thickness (IMT) was measured. Plaque was present for any stenosis > 0%. CAC progression was evaluated with multivariable relative risk regression in cases with CAC = 0 at baseline and with multivariable linear regression for CAC > 0 adjusting for cardiovascular risk factors, body mass index, ethnicity, and common carotid IMT.
Results
CAC was positive at baseline in 2708/5445 (49.7%) participants and became positive in 458/2837 (16.1%) at mean interval of 2.4 years between repeat examinations. Plaque and ICA IMT were both strongly associated with presence of CAC. After statistical adjustment, presence of carotid artery plaque significantly predicted incident CAC with a relative risk(RR) of 1.37 (95% Confidence Intervals: 1.12, 1.67). Incident CAC was associated with ICA IMT with an RR of 1.13 (95% Confidence Intervals: 1.03, 1.25) for each mm increase. Progression of CAC was also significantly associated (p < 0.001) with plaque and ICA IMT.
Conclusions
In individuals free of cardiovascular disease, subjective and quantitative measures of carotid artery plaques by ultrasound imaging are associated with CAC incidence and progression.
doi:10.1016/j.echo.2013.02.009
PMCID: PMC4084492  PMID: 23522805
9.  Differences in atherosclerosis according to area level socioeconomic deprivation: cross sectional, population based study 
Objectives To examine the relation between area level social deprivation and ultrasound markers of atherosclerosis (common carotid intima-media thickness and plaque score), and to determine whether any differences can be explained by “classic” (currently recognised) or “emerging” (novel) cardiovascular risk factors.
Design Cross sectional, population based study.
Setting NHS Greater Glasgow Health Board area.
Participants 666 participants were selected on the basis of how their area ranked in the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation 2004. Approximately equal numbers of participants from the most deprived areas and the least deprived areas were included, as well as equal numbers of men and women and equal numbers of participants from each age group studied (35-44, 45-54, and 55-64 years).
Main outcome measures Carotid intima-media thickness and plaque score, as detected by ultrasound.
Results The mean age and sex adjusted intima-media thickness was significantly higher in participants from the most deprived areas than in those from the least deprived areas (0.70 mm (standard deviation (SD) 0.16 mm) v 0.68 mm (SD 0.12 mm); P=0.015). On subgroup analysis, however, this difference was only apparent in the highest age tertile in men (56.3-66.5 years). The difference in unadjusted mean plaque score between participants from the most deprived and those from the least deprived areas was more striking than the difference in intima-media thickness (least deprived 1.0 (SD 1.5) v most deprived 1.7 (SD 2.0); P<0.0001). In addition, a significant difference in plaque score was apparent in the two highest age tertiles in men (46.8-56.2 years and 56.3-66.5 years; P=0.0073 and P<0.001) and the highest age tertile in women (56.3-66.5 years; P<0.001). The difference in intima-media thickness between most deprived and least deprived males remained significant after adjustment for classic risk factors, emerging risk factors, and individual level markers of socioeconomic status (P=0.010). Adjustment for classic risk factors and emerging cardiovascular risk factors, either alone or in combination, did not abolish the deprivation based difference in plaque presence (as a binary measure; adjusted odds ratio of 1.73, 95% confidence interval 1.07 to 2.82). However, adjustment for classic risk factors and individual level markers of early life socioeconomic status abolished the difference in plaque presence between the most deprived and the least deprived individuals (adjusted odds ratio 0.94, 95% CI 0.54 to 1.65; P=0.84).
Conclusions Deprivation is associated with increased carotid plaque score and intima-media thickness. The association of deprivation with atherosclerosis is multifactorial and not adequately explained by classic or emerging risk factors.
doi:10.1136/bmj.b4170
PMCID: PMC2768777  PMID: 19861369
10.  Sex-differential genetic effect of phosphodiesterase 4D (PDE4D) on carotid atherosclerosis 
BMC Medical Genetics  2010;11:93.
Background
The phosphodiesterase 4D (PDE4D) gene was reported as a susceptibility gene to stroke. The genetic effect might be attributed to its role in modulating the atherogenic process in the carotid arteries. Using carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) and plaque index as phenotypes, the present study sought to determine the influence of this gene on subclinical atherosclerosis.
Methods
Carotid ultrasonography was performed on 1013 stroke-free subjects who participated in the health screening programs (age 52.6 ± 12.2; 47.6% men). Genotype distribution was compared among the high-risk (plaque index ≥ 4), low-risk (index = 1-3), and reference (index = 0) groups. We analyzed continuous IMT data and further dichotomized IMT data using mean plus one standard deviation as the cutoff level. Because the plaque prevalence and IMT values displayed a notable difference between men and women, we carried out sex-specific analyses in addition to analyzing the overall data. Rs702553 at the PDE4D gene was selected because it conferred a risk for young stroke in our previous report. Previous young stroke data (190 cases and 211 controls) with an additional 532 control subjects without ultrasonic data were shown as a cross-validation for the genetic effect.
Results
In the overall analyses, the rare homozygote of rs702553 led to an OR of 3.1 (p = 0.034) for a plaque index ≥ 4. When subjects were stratified by sex, the genetic effect was only evident in men but not in women. Comparing male subjects with plaque index ≥ 4 and those with plaque index = 0, the TT genotype was over-represented (27.6% vs. 13.4%, p = 0.008). For dichotomized IMT data in men, the TT genotype had an OR of 2.1 (p = 0.032) for a thicker IMT at the common carotid artery compared with the (AA + AT) genotypes. In women, neither IMT nor plaque index was associated with rs702553. Similarly, SNP rs702553 was only significant in young stroke men (OR = 1.8, p = 0.025) but not in women (p = 0.27).
Conclusions
The present study demonstrates a sex-differential effect of PDE4D on IMT, plaque index and stroke, which highlights its influence on various aspects of atherogenesis.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-11-93
PMCID: PMC2895592  PMID: 20540798
11.  Periodontal Microbiota and Carotid Intima-Media Thickness 
Circulation  2005;111(5):576.
Background
Chronic infections, including periodontal infections, may predispose to cardiovascular disease. We investigated the relationship between periodontal microbiota and subclinical atherosclerosis.
Methods and Results
Of 1056 persons (age 69±9 years) with no history of stroke or myocardial infarction enrolled in the Oral Infections and Vascular Disease Epidemiology Study (INVEST), we analyzed 657 dentate subjects. Among these subjects, 4561 subgingival plaque samples were collected (average of 7 samples/subject) and quantitatively assessed for 11 known periodontal bacteria by DNA-DNA checkerboard hybridization. Extensive in-person cardiovascular risk factor measurements, a carotid scan with high-resolution B-mode ultrasound, white blood cell count, and C-reactive protein values were obtained. In 3 separate analyses, mean carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT) was regressed on tertiles of (1) burden of all bacteria assessed, (2) burden of bacteria causative of periodontal disease (etiologic bacterial burden), and (3) the relative predominance of causative/over other bacteria in the subgingival plaque. All analyses were adjusted for age, race/ethnicity, gender, education, body mass index, smoking, diabetes, systolic blood pressure, and LDL and HDL cholesterol. Overall periodontal bacterial burden was related to carotid IMT. This relationship was specific to causative bacterial burden and the dominance of etiologic bacteria in the observed microbiological niche. Adjusted mean IMT values across tertiles of etiologic bacterial dominance were 0.84, 0.85, and 0.88 (P=0.002). Similarly, white blood cell values increased across tertiles of etiologic bacterial burden from 5.57 to 6.09 and 6.03 cells × 109/L (P=0.01). C-reactive protein values were unrelated to periodontal microbial status (P=0.82).
Conclusions
Our data provide evidence of a direct relationship between periodontal microbiology and subclinical atherosclerosis. This relationship exists independent of C-reactive protein.
doi:10.1161/01.CIR.0000154582.37101.15
PMCID: PMC2812915  PMID: 15699278
infection; inflammation; atherosclerosis; epidemiology; carotid arteries
12.  The Relationship of Atherosclerosis to the 10-Year Cumulative Incidence of Age-Related Macular Degeneration: The Beaver Dam Studies 
Ophthalmology  2013;120(5):1012-1019.
Objective
To describe the relationships of intima-media layer thickness (IMT), plaque in the carotid artery, angina, myocardial infarction (MI), and stroke to the 10-year cumulative incidence of early and late age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and progression of AMD.
Design
Cohort study.
Participants
1700 persons aged 53–96 years who participated in both the Epidemiology of Hearing Loss Study and the Beaver Dam Eye Study in 1998–2000, with photographs gradable for AMD at a 5- (2003–2005) and/or 10-year (2008–2010) follow-up examination.
Methods
IMT and presence of plaque were assessed using B-mode ultrasonography of the carotid artery. Presence of angina, MI, and stroke were defined based on a self-reported history of physician diagnosis. Presence and severity of AMD were determined by systematic grading of stereoscopic color fundus photographs.
Main Outcome Measures
AMD.
Results
The 10-year cumulative incidence of early AMD was 15.7% and the 10-year cumulative incidence of late AMD was 4.0%. Adjusting for age, sex, body mass index, smoking status, Age-Related Maculopathy Susceptibility 2 and Complement Factor H genotypes and other factors, mean IMT was associated with the 10-year incidence of early AMD (odds ratio per 0.1 mm IMT 1.11, 95% confidence interval 1.00–1.21, P value=0.03) and late AMD (1.27, 1.10–1.47, P=0.001). Mean IMT was associated with the 10-year incidence of pure geographic atrophy (1.31, 1.05–1.64, P=0.02) but not exudative AMD (1.14, 0.97–1.34, P=0.11). Similar associations were found for maximum IMT. The number of sites with plaque was related to the incidence of late AMD (2.79 for 4–6 sites vs. none, 1.06–7.37, P=0.04) but not to early AMD. A history of angina, MI, or stroke was not related to any incident AMD outcome.
Conclusions
In these population-based data, carotid artery IMT and carotid plaques had a weak relationship to the incidence of late AMD, independent of systemic and genetic risk factors. Angina, MI, and stroke were not related to AMD. It is unclear whether the carotid IMT is a risk indicator of processes affecting Bruch’s membrane and the retinal pigment epithelium, or a measure of atherosclerosis affecting susceptibility to AMD.
doi:10.1016/j.ophtha.2012.11.003
PMCID: PMC3646961  PMID: 23399375
13.  The Association between Within-Visit Blood Pressure Variability and Carotid Artery Atherosclerosis in General Population 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e97760.
Objectives
To determine whether within-visit blood pressure (BP) variability based on three measurements over minutes is associated with increased carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) and plaque in a general population.
Methods
A cross-sectional survey was performed in 2007, and a total of 1222 Beijing community residents aged 50–79 years belonging to part of the Chinese Multi-Provincial Cohort Study (CMCS) were recruited in this study. BP was measured three times at 5-minute intervals during a single visit, and the maximum absolute difference (MAD) between any two readings of three measurements was used to indicate within-visit BP variability. Carotid IMT and plaque scanned by B-mode ultrasound were identified as the surrogate end points in the intermediate stage of atherosclerosis.
Results
After adjustment for established cardiovascular risk factors, the odds ratio (OR) (95% confidence interval (CI)) for increased carotid IMT and internal carotid plaque associated with the highest within-visit diastolic BP (DBP) variability (MAD > mean + standard deviation (SD)) compared with participants in the lowest within-visit DBP variability (MAD ≤ mean −SD) was 4.92 (1.48–16.42) and 6.07 (1.31–28.10), respectively, in the normotensives (P = 0.01; P = 0.02). The OR (95% CI) for internal carotid plaque associated with the highest within-visit systolic BP (SBP) variability (MAD >mean +SD) compared with participants in the lowest within-visit SBP variability (MAD ≤ mean −SD) was 3.54 (1.26–10.00) in the hypertensives on antihypertensive therapy (P = 0.02).
Conclusions
Within-visit DBP variability was associated with increased carotid IMT and internal carotid plaque in the normotensive population, and within-visit SBP variability was associated with internal carotid plaque in hypertensive patients undergoing antihypertensive therapy.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0097760
PMCID: PMC4024014  PMID: 24835667
14.  Carotid Plaque Surface Irregularity Predicts Ischemic Stroke The Northern Manhattan Study 
Background and Purpose
There is scant population-based evidence regarding extracranial carotid plaque surface irregularity and ischemic stroke. Using a prospective cohort design, we evaluated the association of carotid plaque surface irregularity and the risk of ischemic stroke in a multiethnic population.
Methods
High-resolution B-mode ultrasound of the carotid arteries was performed in 1939 stroke-free subjects (mean age 69±10.0 years; 59% women; 53% Hispanic, 25% black, 22% white). Plaque was defined as a focal protrusion 50% greater than the surrounding area and localized along the extracranial carotid tree (internal carotid artery/bifurcation vs common carotid artery). Plaque surface was categorized as regular or irregular. Cox proportional hazard models were used to assess the association of surface characteristics and the risk of ischemic stroke.
Results
Among 1939 total subjects, carotid plaque was visualized in 56.3% (1 plaque: 21.6%, >1 plaque: 34.7%, irregular plaque: 5.5%). During a mean follow up of 6.2 years after ultrasound examination, 69 ischemic strokes occurred. Unadjusted cumulative 5-year risks of ischemic stroke were: 1.3%, 3.0%, and 8.5% for no plaque, regular plaque, and irregular plaque, respectively. After adjusting for demographics, traditional vascular risk factors, degree of stenosis, and plaque thickness, presence of irregular plaque (vs no plaque) was independently associated with ischemic stroke (Hazard ratio, 3.1; 95% CI, 1.1 to 8.5).
Conclusions
The presence of irregular carotid plaque independently predicted ischemic stroke in a multiethnic cohort. Plaque surface irregularities assessed by B-mode ultrasonography may help identify intermediate- to high-risk individuals beyond their vascular risk assessed by the presence of traditional risk factors.
doi:10.1161/01.STR.0000244780.82190.a4
PMCID: PMC2654324  PMID: 17008627
carotid artery; irregular plaque; stroke; ultrasound
15.  METABOLIC SYNDROME INCREASES CAROTID ARTERY STIFFNESS: THE NORTHERN MANHATTAN STUDY 
Background
Arterial Stiffness, an intermediate pre-clinical marker of atherosclerosis, has been associated with an increased risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease (CVD). The metabolic syndrome and its components are established CVD risk factors and may also increase arterial stiffness, but data on this potential relationship is limited. The goal of this study was to determine the association between the metabolic syndrome (MetSyn) and carotid artery stiffness (STIFF) in an elderly multi-ethnic cohort.
Methods
STIFF was assessed by carotid ultrasound as part of the Northern Manhattan Study (NOMAS), a prospective population-based cohort of stroke-free individuals. STIFF was calculated as [ln(systolicBP/diastolicBP)/Strain], where Strain was [(Systolic Diameter Diastolic Diameter)/Diastolic Diameter]. MetSyn was defined by the National Cholesterol Education Program: Adult Treatment Panel III (NCEP ATP III) criteria. LogSTIFF was analyzed as the dependent variable in linear regression models, adjusting for demographics, education, current smoking, presence of carotid plaque and intima-media thickness.
Results
STIFF was analyzed in 1133 NOMAS subjects (mean age 65±9 years; 61% women; 58% Hispanic, 22% Black, 20% White). The prevalence of MetSyn was 49%. The mean LogSTIFF was 2.01±0.61 among those with and 1.90±0.59 among those without MetSyn (p=0.003). MetSyn was significantly associated with increased logSTIFF in the final adjusted model (parameter estimate β=0.100, p=0.01). Among individual MetSyn components, waist circumference and elevated blood pressure were most significantly associated with a mean increase in logSTIFF (p<0.01).
Conclusion
MetSyn is significantly associated with increased carotid artery stiffness in a multiethnic population. Increased carotid artery stiffness may, in part, explain a high risk of stroke among individuals with the metabolic syndrome.
doi:10.1111/j.1747-4949.2010.00421.x
PMCID: PMC2980500  PMID: 20536608
metabolic syndrome; arterial stiffness; atherosclerosis; elderly; race-ethnicity
16.  Common carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT) progression as a predictor of stroke in MESA (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis) 
Background
Carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT) is a marker of cardiovascular disease associated with incident stroke. We study whether IMT rate-of-change is associated with stroke.
Materials and Methods
We studied 5028 participants of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) composed of whites, Chinese, Hispanic and African-Americans free of cardiovascular disease. In this MESA IMT progression study, IMT rate-of-change (mm/year) was the difference in right common carotid artery (CCA) far-wall IMT (mm) divided by the interval between two ultrasound examinations (median interval of 32 months). CCA IMT was measured in a region free of plaque. Cardiovascular risk factors and baseline IMT were determined when IMT rate-of-change was measured. Multivariable Cox proportional hazards models generated Hazard risk Ratios (HR) with cardiovascular risk factors, ethnicity and education level/income as predictors.
Results
There were 42 first time strokes seen during a mean follow-up of 3.22 years (median 3.0 years). Average age was 64.2 years, with 48% males. In multivariable models, age (HR: 1.05 per year), systolic blood pressure (HR 1.02 per mmHg), lower HDL cholesterol levels (HR: 0.96 per mg/dL) and IMT rate-of-change (HR 1.23 per 0.05 mm/year; 95% C.L. 1.02, 1.48) were significantly associated with incident stroke. The upper quartile of IMT rate-of-change had an HR of 2.18 (95% C.L.: 1.07, 4.46) compared to the lower three quartiles combined.
Conclusion
Common carotid artery IMT progression is associated with incident stroke in this cohort free of prevalent cardiovascular disease and atrial fibrillation at baseline.
doi:10.1161/STROKEAHA.111.625186
PMCID: PMC3202068  PMID: 21885840
Ultrasonography; Risk Factors; Carotid Arteries; Carotid Intima Media Thickness; stroke
17.  Snoring and Insomnia are Not Associated with Subclinical Atherosclerosis in the Northern Manhattan Study (NOMAS) 
Background and Aims
Sleep disordered breathing (SDB) is a risk factor for stroke, but its association with subclinical atherosclerosis remains controversial. Snoring and insomnia are frequently co-morbid with SDB and may contribute to stroke. Data on the relationship between snoring and insomnia with atherosclerotic disease is sparse. We investigated the relationship between insomnia, snoring and carotid intima-media thickness (IMT), a marker of subclinical atherosclerosis, in the Northern Manhattan Study (NOMAS).
Methods
A group of 1,605 participants (mean age 65 ± 8 years; 40% men; 61% Hispanic, 19% black, 20% white) who had carotid IMT measurements performed was assessed for self-reported sleep habits. Habitual snoring was defined as self-reported snoring > 4 times per week. Presence of insomnia was based on three items extracted from the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression. Carotid IMT was expressed as a mean composite measure of IMT in the carotid bifurcation, common and internal carotid artery. Multivariate linear regression models were used to identify associations between snoring, insomnia and carotid IMT.
Results
Habitual snoring was present in 29% of the subjects and insomnia in 26%. There was a higher prevalence of self reported snoring (84%) and insomnia (66%) among Hispanics than non-Hispanics. The mean total carotid IMT was 0.95 ± 0.09 mm; among those with self reported snoring was 0.94 ± 0.09 mm; and among those with insomnia was 0.95 ± 0.08 mm. After controlling for age, sex, race-ethnicity, BMI and cardiovascular risk factors, snoring (p= 0.986) and insomnia (p= 0.829) were not significantly associated with increased carotid IMT.
Conclusion
Snoring and insomnia were not significantly associated with subclinical atherosclerosis in this population based community cohort.
doi:10.1111/j.1747-4949.2010.00438.x
PMCID: PMC2907549  PMID: 20636708
sleep; snoring; insomnia; African American; Hispanic; Intima-Media Thickness; Risk factors; Sonography; Ultrasound
18.  Infectious burden and cognitive function 
Neurology  2013;80(13):1209-1215.
Objective:
We hypothesized that infectious burden (IB), a composite serologic measure of exposure to common pathogens (i.e., Chlamydia pneumoniae, Helicobacter pylori, cytomegalovirus, and herpes simplex virus 1 and 2) associated with vascular risk in the prospective Northern Manhattan Study (NOMAS), would also be associated with cognition.
Methods:
Cognition was assessed using the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) at enrollment and the modified Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status (TICS-m) at annual follow-up visits. Adjusted linear and logistic regressions were used to measure the association between IB index and MMSE. Generalized estimating equation models were used to evaluate associations with TICS-m and its change over time.
Results:
Serologies and cognitive assessments were available in 1,625 participants of the NOMAS cohort. In unadjusted analyses, higher IB index was associated with worse cognition (change per standard deviation [SD] of IB for MMSE was −0.77, p < 0.0001, and for first measurements of TICS-m was −1.89, p < 0.0001). These effects were attenuated after adjusting for risk factors (for MMSE adjusted change per SD of IB = −0.17, p = 0.06, for TICS-m adjusted change per SD IB = −0.68, p < 0.0001). IB was associated with MMSE ≤24 (compared to MMSE >24, adjusted odds ratio 1.26 per SD of IB, 95% confidence interval 1.06–1.51). IB was not associated with cognitive decline over time. The results were similar when IB was limited to viral serologies only.
Conclusion:
A measure of IB associated with stroke risk and atherosclerosis was independently associated with cognitive performance in this multiethnic cohort. Past infections may contribute to cognitive impairment.
doi:10.1212/WNL.0b013e3182896e79
PMCID: PMC3691781  PMID: 23530151
19.  Lipids and carotid plaque in the Northern Manhattan Study (NOMAS) 
Background
Lipids, particularly low-density (LDL) and high-density (HDL) lipoproteins, are associated with increased risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease, probably due to atherosclerosis. The objective of this cross-sectional analysis was to investigate the relation between blood lipids and carotid plaque.
Methods
As part of a prospective population-based study to determine the incidence and risk factors of stroke in a multiethnic population, we evaluated 1804 participants with lipid measurements and B-mode ultrasound of carotid arteries (mean age 69 +/- 10 years; 40% men; 51% Hispanic, 26% black, 23% white). The association between lipid parameters and carotid plaque was analyzed by multiple logistic regression.
Results
Plaque was present in 61% of participants. Mean total cholesterol was 202 +/- 41 mg/dl. After controlling for other lipid parameters, demographics, and risk factors, the only cholesterol subfraction associated with carotid plaque was LDL (OR per standard deviation (SD) = 1.14, 95% CI 1.02-1.27). Neither HDL nor triglycerides independently predicted carotid plaque. Apolipoprotein B (ApoB) was also associated with risk of plaque (OR per SD = 1.29, 95% CI 1.03-1.60). Apolipoprotein A-I (apoA-1) was associated with a decrease in multiple plaques (OR per SD = 0.76, 95% CI 0.60-0.97), while lipoprotein a was associated with an increased risk of multiple plaques (OR per SD = 1.31, 95% CI 1.03-1.66). ApoB:ApoA-I had the strongest relation with carotid plaque (OR per SD = 1.35, 95% CI 1.08-1.69).
Conclusions
Among the common lipid parameters, LDL has the strongest relation with carotid plaque. Other lipid precursor proteins such as ApoB and ApoA-I may be stronger predictors of subclinical atherosclerosis, however, and better targets for treatment to reduce plaque formation and risk of cerebrovascular disease.
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-9-55
PMCID: PMC2804671  PMID: 20028534
20.  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
21.  Carotid-Wall Intima–Media Thickness and Cardiovascular Events 
The New England journal of medicine  2011;365(3):213-221.
BACKGROUND
Intima–media thickness of the walls of the common carotid artery and internal carotid artery may add to the Framingham risk score for predicting cardiovascular events.
METHODS
We measured the mean intima–media thickness of the common carotid artery and the maximum intima–media thickness of the internal carotid artery in 2965 members of the Framingham Offspring Study cohort. Cardiovascular-disease outcomes were evaluated for an average follow-up of 7.2 years. Multivariable Cox proportional-hazards models were generated for intima–media thickness and risk factors. We evaluated the reclassification of cardiovascular disease on the basis of the 8-year Framingham risk score category (low, intermediate, or high) after adding intima–media thickness values.
RESULTS
A total of 296 participants had a cardiovascular event. The risk factors of the Framingham risk score predicted these events, with a C statistic of 0.748 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.719 to 0.776). The adjusted hazard ratio for cardiovascular disease with a 1-SD increase in the mean intima–media thickness of the common carotid artery was 1.13 (95% CI, 1.02 to 1.24), with a nonsignificant change in the C statistic of 0.003 (95% CI, 0.000 to 0.007); the corresponding hazard ratio for the maximum intima–media thickness of the internal carotid artery was 1.21 (95% CI, 1.13 to 1.29), with a modest increase in the C statistic of 0.009 (95% CI, 0.003 to 0.016). The net reclassification index increased significantly after addition of intima–media thickness of the internal carotid artery (7.6%, P<0.001) but not intima–media thickness of the common carotid artery (0.0%, P = 0.99). With the presence of plaque, defined as intima–media thickness of the internal carotid artery of more than 1.5 mm, the net reclassification index was 7.3% (P = 0.01), with an increase in the C statistic of 0.014 (95% CI, 0.003 to 0.025).
CONCLUSIONS
The maximum internal and mean common carotid-artery intima–media thicknesses both predict cardiovascular outcomes, but only the maximum intima–media thickness of (and presence of plaque in) the internal carotid artery significantly (albeit modestly) improves the classification of risk of cardiovascular disease in the Framingham Offspring Study cohort. (Funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.)
doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1012592
PMCID: PMC3153949  PMID: 21774709
22.  Bone mineral density and atherosclerosis: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, Abdominal Aortic Calcium Study 
Atherosclerosis  2009;209(1):283-289.
Context
Molecular and cell biology studies have demonstrated an association between bone and arterial wall disease, but the significance of a population-level association is less clear and potentially confounded by inability to account for shared risk factors.
Objective
To test population-level associations between atherosclerosis types and bone integrity.
Main Outcome Measures
Volumetric trabecular lumbar bone mineral density (vBMD), ankle-brachial index (ABI), intima-media thickness of the common carotid (CCA-IMT) and internal carotid (ICA-IMT) arteries, and carotid plaque echogenicity.
Design, Setting and Participants
A random subset of participants from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) assessed between 2002 and 2005.
Results
904 post-menopausal female (62.4 years; 62% non-white; 12% ABI<1; 17% CCA-IMT>1mm; 33% ICA-IMT>1mm) and 929 male (61.4 years; 58% non-white; 6% ABI<1; 25% CCA-IMT>1mm; 40% ICA-IMT>1mm) were included. In serial, sex-specific regression models adjusting for age, ethnicity, body mass index, dyslipidemia, hypertension, smoking, alcohol consumption, diabetes, homocysteine, interleukin-6, sex hormones, and renal function, lower vBMD was associated with lower ABI in men (p for trend <0.01) and greater ICA-IMT in men (p for trend <0.02). CCA-IMT was not associated with vBMD in men or women. Carotid plaque echogenicity was independently associated with lower vBMD in both men (trend p=0.01) and women (trend p<0.04). In all models, adjustment did not materially affect results.
Conclusions
Lower vBMD is independently associated with structural and functional measures of atherosclerosis in men and with more advanced and calcified carotid atherosclerotic plaques in both sexes.
doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2009.09.011
PMCID: PMC4254856  PMID: 19819456
23.  Carotid Artery Intima-Media Thickness, Carotid Plaque and Coronary Heart Disease and Stroke in Chinese 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(10):e3435.
Background
Our aim was to prospectively investigate the association between carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT) as well as carotid plaque and incidence of coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke in Chinese, among whom data are limited.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a community-based cohort study composed of 2190 participants free of cardiovascular disease at baseline in one community. During a median 10.5-year follow up, we documented 68 new cases of coronary heart disease and 94 cases of stroke. The multivariate relative risks (RRs) associated with a change of 1 standard deviation of maximal common carotid IMT were 1.38 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.12–1.70) for CHD and 1.47 (95% CI, 1.28–1.69) for stroke. The corresponding RRs with internal carotid IMT were 1.47 (95% CI, 1.21–1.79) for CHD and 1.52 (95% CI, 1.31–1.76) for stroke. Carotid plaque measured by the degree of diameter stenosis was also significantly associated with increased risk of CHD (p for trend<0.0001) and stroke (p for trend<0.0001). However, these associations were largely attenuated when adjusting for IMT measurements.
Conclusions
This prospective study indicates a significant association between carotid IMT and incidence of CHD and stroke in Chinese adults. These measurements may be useful for cardiovascular risk assessment and stratification in Chinese.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0003435
PMCID: PMC2562458  PMID: 18927612
24.  Estimates of Outcomes Up to Ten Years after Stroke: Analysis from the Prospective South London Stroke Register 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(5):e1001033.
Charles Wolfe and colleagues collected data from the South London Stroke Register on 3,373 first strokes registered between 1995 and 2006 and showed that between 20% and 30% of survivors have poor outcomes up to 10 years after stroke.
Background
Although stroke is acknowledged as a long-term condition, population estimates of outcomes longer term are lacking. Such estimates would be useful for planning health services and developing research that might ultimately improve outcomes. This burden of disease study provides population-based estimates of outcomes with a focus on disability, cognition, and psychological outcomes up to 10 y after initial stroke event in a multi-ethnic European population.
Methods and Findings
Data were collected from the population-based South London Stroke Register, a prospective population-based register documenting all first in a lifetime strokes since 1 January 1995 in a multi-ethnic inner city population. The outcomes assessed are reported as estimates of need and included disability (Barthel Index <15), inactivity (Frenchay Activities Index <15), cognitive impairment (Abbreviated Mental Test < 8 or Mini-Mental State Exam <24), anxiety and depression (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale >10), and mental and physical domain scores of the Medical Outcomes Study 12-item short form (SF-12) health survey. Estimates were stratified by age, gender, and ethnicity, and age-adjusted using the standard European population. Plots of outcome estimates over time were constructed to examine temporal trends and sociodemographic differences. Between 1995 and 2006, 3,373 first-ever strokes were registered: 20%–30% of survivors had a poor outcome over 10 y of follow-up. The highest rate of disability was observed 7 d after stroke and remained at around 110 per 1,000 stroke survivors from 3 mo to 10 y. Rates of inactivity and cognitive impairment both declined up to 1 y (280/1,000 and 180/1,000 survivors, respectively); thereafter rates of inactivity remained stable till year eight, then increased, whereas rates of cognitive impairment fluctuated till year eight, then increased. Anxiety and depression showed some fluctuation over time, with a rate of 350 and 310 per 1,000 stroke survivors, respectively. SF-12 scores showed little variation from 3 mo to 10 y after stroke. Inactivity was higher in males at all time points, and in white compared to black stroke survivors, although black survivors reported better outcomes in the SF-12 physical domain. No other major differences were observed by gender or ethnicity. Increased age was associated with higher rates of disability, inactivity, and cognitive impairment.
Conclusions
Between 20% and 30% of stroke survivors have a poor range of outcomes up to 10 y after stroke. Such epidemiological data demonstrate the sociodemographic groups that are most affected longer term and should be used to develop longer term management strategies that reduce the significant poor outcomes of this group, for whom effective interventions are currently elusive.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Every year, 15 million people have a stroke. About 5 million of these people die within a few days, and another 5 million are left disabled. Stroke occurs when the brain's blood supply is suddenly interrupted by a blood clot blocking a blood vessel in the brain (ischemic stroke, the commonest type of stroke) or by a blood vessel in the brain bursting (hemorrhagic stroke). Deprived of the oxygen normally carried to them by the blood, the brain cells near the blockage die. The symptoms of stroke depend on which part of the brain is damaged but include sudden weakness or paralysis along one side of the body, vision loss in one or both eyes, and confusion or trouble speaking or understanding speech. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention because prompt treatment can limit the damage to the brain. Risk factors for stroke include age (three-quarters of strokes occur in people over 65 years old), high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Why Was This Study Done?
Post-stroke rehabilitation can help individuals overcome the physical disabilities caused by stroke, and drugs and behavioral counseling can reduce the risk of a second stroke. However, people can also have problems with cognition (thinking, awareness, attention, learning, judgment, and memory) after a stroke, and they can become depressed or anxious. These “outcomes” can persist for many years, but although stroke is acknowledged as a long-term condition, most existing data on stroke outcomes are limited to a year after the stroke and often focus on disability alone. Longer term, more extensive information is needed to help plan services and to help develop research to improve outcomes. In this burden of disease analysis, the researchers use follow-up data collected by the prospective South London Stroke Register (SLSR) to provide long-term population-based estimates of disability, cognition, and psychological outcomes after a first stroke. The SLSR has recorded and followed all patients of all ages in an inner area of South London after their first-ever stroke since 1995.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Between 1995 and 2006, the SLSR recorded 3,373 first-ever strokes. Patients were examined within 48 hours of referral to SLSR, their stroke diagnosis was verified, and their sociodemographic characteristics (including age, gender, and ethnic origin) were recorded. Study nurses and fieldworkers then assessed the patients at three months and annually after the stroke for disability (using the Barthel Index, which measures the ability to, for example, eat unaided), inactivity (using the Frenchay Activities Index, which measures participation in social activities), and cognitive impairment (using the Abbreviated Mental Test or the Mini-Mental State Exam). Anxiety and depression and the patients' perceptions of their mental and physical capabilities were also assessed. Using preset cut-offs for each outcome, 20%–30% of stroke survivors had a poor outcome over ten years of follow-up. So, for example, 110 individuals per 1,000 population were judged disabled from three months to ten years, rates of inactivity remained constant from year one to year eight, at 280 affected individuals per 1,000 survivors, and rates of anxiety and depression fluctuated over time but affected about a third of the population. Notably, levels of inactivity were higher among men than women at all time points and were higher in white than in black stroke survivors. Finally, increased age was associated with higher rates of disability, inactivity, and cognitive impairment.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Although the accuracy of these findings may be affected by the loss of some patients to follow-up, these population-based estimates of outcome measures for survivors of a first-ever stroke for up to ten years after the event provide concrete evidence that stroke is a lifelong condition with ongoing poor outcomes. They also identify the sociodemographic groups of patients that are most affected in the longer term. Importantly, most of the measured outcomes remain relatively constant (and worse than outcomes in an age-matched non-stroke-affected population) after 3–12 months, a result that needs to be considered when planning services for stroke survivors. In other words, these findings highlight the need for health and social services to provide long-term, ongoing assessment and rehabilitation for patients for many years after a stroke.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001033.
The US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke provides information about all aspects of stroke (in English and Spanish); the US National Institute of Health SeniorHealth Web site has additional information about stroke
The Internet Stroke Center provides detailed information about stroke for patients, families, and health professionals (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices Web site also provides information about stroke for patients and their families
MedlinePlus has links to additional resources about stroke (in English and Spanish)
More information about the South London Stroke Register is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001033
PMCID: PMC3096613  PMID: 21610863
25.  Retinal Microvascular Signs and Risk of Stroke: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) 
Background and Purpose
Small vessel disease contributes to the pathophysiology of stroke, and retinal microvascular signs have been linked to risk of stroke. We examined the relationship of retinal signs with incident stroke in a multi-ethnic cohort.
Methods
The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) is a prospective cohort study that enrolled participants without clinical cardiovascular diseases from six United States communities between 2000–02. Of the participants, 4,849 (71.2%) had fundus photography performed in 2002–04. Retinopathy and retinal vessel caliber were assessed from retinal images. Stroke risk factors including high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP), carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT) and coronary artery calcium (CAC) were measured using standardized protocols. Incident stroke was confirmed from medical record review and death certificates.
Results
After 6 years of follow-up, there were 62 incident strokes. Narrower retinal arteriolar caliber was associated with increased risk of stroke after adjusting for conventional cardiovascular risk factors (adjusted incidence rate ratio [IRR] 2.83, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.34–5.95, p=0.006; adjusted hazard ratio [HR] 3.01, 95% CI 1.29–6.99, p=0.011). Retinopathy in persons without diabetes was associated with increased risk of stroke (adjusted IRR 2.96, 95% CI 1.50–5.84, p=0.002; adjusted HR 3.07, 95%CI 1.17–8.09, p=0.023). These associations remained significant after adjusting for hsCRP, carotid IMT or CAC.
Conclusions
Narrower retinal arteriolar caliber and retinopathy in non-diabetic persons were associated with increased risk of stroke in this relatively healthy multi-ethnic cohort independent of traditional risk factors and measures of atherosclerosis. The association between narrower retinal arteriolar caliber and stroke warrants further investigation.
doi:10.1161/STROKEAHA.112.673335
PMCID: PMC3508325  PMID: 23111439
Stroke; Retinal microvascular signs; Retinopathy; Retinal vessel caliber

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