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1.  Prevalence of and Risk Factors for Subclinical Cardiovascular Disease in Selected US Hispanic Ethnic Groups 
American journal of epidemiology  2008;167(8):962-969.
In this study, the authors determined the prevalence and extent of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors and subclinical CVD in four US Hispanic subgroups, as well as associations between the CVD risk factors and subclinical CVD in these groups. Participants were 1,437 Hispanic men and women enrolled in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis in 2000–2002. Fifty-six percent were Mexican-American, 12% were Dominican-American, 14% were Puerto Rican-American, and 18% were Other Hispanic-American. All participants underwent clinical examinations for coronary artery calcium, thoracic aortic calcium, carotid intimal-medial thickness, ankle-brachial index, left ventricular mass, and left ventricular size. Mexican Americans had the highest levels of coronary artery calcium, thoracic aortic calcium, and carotid intimal-medial thickness, while Puerto Rican Americans had the highest prevalence of an ankle-brachial index less than 1.0 and levels of left ventricular mass. The magnitudes of the associations between coronary artery calcium and age, sex, and body mass index were similar across all Hispanic subgroups. However, there were differences in the magnitude and significance of the associations between coronary artery calcium and hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and cigarette smoking among the different Hispanic subgroups. This finding was also present for the other subclinical CVD measures. These results suggest a differential relationship between risk factors and either prevalence or extent of subclinical disease by Hispanic subgroup.
doi:10.1093/aje/kwm402
PMCID: PMC4107279  PMID: 18283034
atherosclerosis; cardiovascular diseases; ethnic groups; Hispanic Americans; risk factors
2.  Pediatric nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular risk 
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) encompasses a range of liver histology severity and outcomes in the absence of chronic alcohol use. The mildest form is simple steatosis in which triglycerides accumulate within hepatocytes. A more advanced form of NAFLD, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, includes inflammation and liver cell injury, progressive to cryptogenic cirrhosis. NAFLD has become the most common cause of chronic liver disease in children and adolescents. The recent rise in the prevalence rates of overweight and obesity likely explains the NAFLD epidemic worldwide. NAFLD is strongly associated with abdominal obesity, type 2 diabetes, and dyslipidemia, and most patients have evidence of insulin resistance. Thus, NAFLD shares many features of the metabolic syndrome (MetS), a highly atherogenic condition, and this has stimulated interest in the possible role of NAFLD in the development of atherosclerosis. Accumulating evidence suggests that NAFLD is associated with a significantly greater overall mortality than in the general population, as well as with increased prevalence of cardiovascular disease (CVD), independently of classical atherosclerotic risk factors. Yet, several studies including the pediatric population have reported independent associations between NAFLD and impaired flow-mediated vasodilatation and increased carotid artery intimal medial thickness-two reliable markers of subclinical atherosclerosis-after adjusting for cardiovascular risk factors and MetS. Therefore, the rising prevalence of obesity-related MetS and NAFLD in childhood may lead to a parallel increase in adverse cardiovascular outcomes. In children, the cardiovascular system remains plastic and damage-reversible if early and appropriate interventions are established effectively. Therapeutic goals for NAFLD should address nutrition, physical activity, and avoidance of smoking to prevent not only end-stage liver disease but also CVD.
doi:10.3748/wjg.v17.i26.3082
PMCID: PMC3158407  PMID: 21912450
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease; Metabolic syndrome; Cardiovascular risk; Children
3.  The Ankle-Brachial Index and Incident Cardiovascular Events in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) 
Objectives
The purpose of this study was to examine the association of both a low and a high ankle-brachial index (ABI) with incident cardiovascular events in a multi-ethnic cohort.
Background
Abnormal ankle-brachial indices (ABIs), both low and high, are associated with elevated cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. However, it is unknown whether this association is consistent across different ethnic groups, and whether it is independent of both newer biomarkers and other measures of subclinical atherosclerotic CVD.
Methods
6647 non-Hispanic white, African-American, Hispanic, and Chinese men and women aged 45–84 years from free-living populations in six United States field centers and free of clinical CVD at baseline had extensive measures of traditional and newer biomarker risk factors, and measures of subclinical CVD, including the ABI. Incident CVD, defined as coronary disease, stroke, or other atherosclerotic CVD death, was determined over a mean follow-up of 5.3 years.
Results
Both a low (<1.00) and a high (≥ 1.40) ABI were associated with incident CVD events. Gender- specific and ethnic-specific analyses showed consistent results. Hazard ratios were 1.77 (p<.001) for a low and 1.85 (p=.050) for a high ABI after adjustment for both traditional and newer biomarker CVD risk factors, and the ABI significantly improved risk discrimination. Further adjustment for coronary artery calcium score, common and internal carotid intimal medial thickness, and major ECG abnormalities only modestly attenuated these hazard ratios.
Conclusions
In this study both a low and a high ABI were associated with elevated CVD risk in persons free of known CVD, independent of standard and novel risk factors, and independent of other measures of subclinical CVD. Further research should address the cost-effectiveness of measuring the ABI in targeted population groups.
doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2010.04.060
PMCID: PMC2962558  PMID: 20951328
peripheral arterial disease; ankle-brachial index; cardiovascular events; risk factors; subclinical atherosclerosis
4.  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
5.  EFFECT OF LOWER TARGETS FOR BLOOD PRESSURE AND LDL CHOLESTEROL ON ATHEROSCLEROSIS IN DIABETES 
JAMA  2008;299(14):1678-1689.
Context
Individuals with diabetes are at greatly increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease (CVD), but more aggressive targets for risk factor control have not been tested.
Objective
To compare the progression of subclinical atherosclerotic disease in diabetic adults treated to aggressive targets of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) ≤ 70 mg/dL and blood pressure (BP) ≤ 115/75 mm Hg (aggressive) versus treatment to standard targets of LDL-C ≤ 100 mg/dL and BP ≤ 130/85 mm Hg (standard).
Design
Randomized, open label, blinded-to-endpoint 3-year trial in individuals with diabetes conducted April 2003-July 2004.
Setting
Four clinical centers in southwestern Oklahoma; Phoenix, AZ; northeastern Arizona; and South Dakota.
Participants
499 American Indian men and women ≥ age 40 with type 2 diabetes and no prior CVD events.
Interventions
Participants were randomized to aggressive vs. standard treatment. The same treatment algorithms were followed for both groups.
Main Outcome Measures
Primary endpoint was a composite of progression of atherosclerosis as measured by common carotid artery intimal medial thickness (IMT) and clinical events. Secondary endpoints included other carotid and cardiac ultrasonographic measures.
Results
LDL-C and systolic BP (SBP) goals for both groups were reached within 12 months and maintained to 36 months. LDL-C and SBP in the last 12 months averaged 72 and 104 mg/dL and 116 and 129 mm Hg in the aggressive and standard groups, respectively. Regression of IMT (-0.017 vs. 0.041 mm, p < .0001) and arterial mass (-0.14 vs. 1.14 mm2, p < .0001) and greater decrease in left ventricular mass (-2.4 vs. -1.3 g/m2.7, p = .05) were observed in the aggressive group. Clinical CVD events were lower than expected and did not differ between groups
Conclusions
Reducing LDL-C and SBP to lower targets resulted in regression of carotid IMT and greater decrease in left ventricular mass in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Clinical events were lower than expected and did not differ significantly between groups. Further follow-up is needed to determine whether these improvements will result in lower long-term CVD event rates and costs and favorable risk-benefit outomes.
doi:10.1001/jama.299.14.1678
PMCID: PMC4243925  PMID: 18398080
6.  The Role of Adiposity in Cardiometabolic Traits: A Mendelian Randomization Analysis 
Fall, Tove | Hägg, Sara | Mägi, Reedik | Ploner, Alexander | Fischer, Krista | Horikoshi, Momoko | Sarin, Antti-Pekka | Thorleifsson, Gudmar | Ladenvall, Claes | Kals, Mart | Kuningas, Maris | Draisma, Harmen H. M. | Ried, Janina S. | van Zuydam, Natalie R. | Huikari, Ville | Mangino, Massimo | Sonestedt, Emily | Benyamin, Beben | Nelson, Christopher P. | Rivera, Natalia V. | Kristiansson, Kati | Shen, Huei-yi | Havulinna, Aki S. | Dehghan, Abbas | Donnelly, Louise A. | Kaakinen, Marika | Nuotio, Marja-Liisa | Robertson, Neil | de Bruijn, Renée F. A. G. | Ikram, M. Arfan | Amin, Najaf | Balmforth, Anthony J. | Braund, Peter S. | Doney, Alexander S. F. | Döring, Angela | Elliott, Paul | Esko, Tõnu | Franco, Oscar H. | Gretarsdottir, Solveig | Hartikainen, Anna-Liisa | Heikkilä, Kauko | Herzig, Karl-Heinz | Holm, Hilma | Hottenga, Jouke Jan | Hyppönen, Elina | Illig, Thomas | Isaacs, Aaron | Isomaa, Bo | Karssen, Lennart C. | Kettunen, Johannes | Koenig, Wolfgang | Kuulasmaa, Kari | Laatikainen, Tiina | Laitinen, Jaana | Lindgren, Cecilia | Lyssenko, Valeriya | Läärä, Esa | Rayner, Nigel W. | Männistö, Satu | Pouta, Anneli | Rathmann, Wolfgang | Rivadeneira, Fernando | Ruokonen, Aimo | Savolainen, Markku J. | Sijbrands, Eric J. G. | Small, Kerrin S. | Smit, Jan H. | Steinthorsdottir, Valgerdur | Syvänen, Ann-Christine | Taanila, Anja | Tobin, Martin D. | Uitterlinden, Andre G. | Willems, Sara M. | Willemsen, Gonneke | Witteman, Jacqueline | Perola, Markus | Evans, Alun | Ferrières, Jean | Virtamo, Jarmo | Kee, Frank | Tregouet, David-Alexandre | Arveiler, Dominique | Amouyel, Philippe | Ferrario, Marco M. | Brambilla, Paolo | Hall, Alistair S. | Heath, Andrew C. | Madden, Pamela A. F. | Martin, Nicholas G. | Montgomery, Grant W. | Whitfield, John B. | Jula, Antti | Knekt, Paul | Oostra, Ben | van Duijn, Cornelia M. | Penninx, Brenda W. J. H. | Davey Smith, George | Kaprio, Jaakko | Samani, Nilesh J. | Gieger, Christian | Peters, Annette | Wichmann, H.-Erich | Boomsma, Dorret I. | de Geus, Eco J. C. | Tuomi, TiinaMaija | Power, Chris | Hammond, Christopher J. | Spector, Tim D. | Lind, Lars | Orho-Melander, Marju | Palmer, Colin Neil Alexander | Morris, Andrew D. | Groop, Leif | Järvelin, Marjo-Riitta | Salomaa, Veikko | Vartiainen, Erkki | Hofman, Albert | Ripatti, Samuli | Metspalu, Andres | Thorsteinsdottir, Unnur | Stefansson, Kari | Pedersen, Nancy L. | McCarthy, Mark I. | Ingelsson, Erik | Prokopenko, Inga
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(6):e1001474.
In this study, Prokopenko and colleagues provide novel evidence for causal relationship between adiposity and heart failure and increased liver enzymes using a Mendelian randomization study design.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
The association between adiposity and cardiometabolic traits is well known from epidemiological studies. Whilst the causal relationship is clear for some of these traits, for others it is not. We aimed to determine whether adiposity is causally related to various cardiometabolic traits using the Mendelian randomization approach.
Methods and Findings
We used the adiposity-associated variant rs9939609 at the FTO locus as an instrumental variable (IV) for body mass index (BMI) in a Mendelian randomization design. Thirty-six population-based studies of individuals of European descent contributed to the analyses.
Age- and sex-adjusted regression models were fitted to test for association between (i) rs9939609 and BMI (n = 198,502), (ii) rs9939609 and 24 traits, and (iii) BMI and 24 traits. The causal effect of BMI on the outcome measures was quantified by IV estimators. The estimators were compared to the BMI–trait associations derived from the same individuals. In the IV analysis, we demonstrated novel evidence for a causal relationship between adiposity and incident heart failure (hazard ratio, 1.19 per BMI-unit increase; 95% CI, 1.03–1.39) and replicated earlier reports of a causal association with type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, dyslipidemia, and hypertension (odds ratio for IV estimator, 1.1–1.4; all p<0.05). For quantitative traits, our results provide novel evidence for a causal effect of adiposity on the liver enzymes alanine aminotransferase and gamma-glutamyl transferase and confirm previous reports of a causal effect of adiposity on systolic and diastolic blood pressure, fasting insulin, 2-h post-load glucose from the oral glucose tolerance test, C-reactive protein, triglycerides, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels (all p<0.05). The estimated causal effects were in agreement with traditional observational measures in all instances except for type 2 diabetes, where the causal estimate was larger than the observational estimate (p = 0.001).
Conclusions
We provide novel evidence for a causal relationship between adiposity and heart failure as well as between adiposity and increased liver enzymes.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Cardiovascular disease (CVD)—disease that affects the heart and/or the blood vessels—is a major cause of illness and death worldwide. In the US, for example, coronary heart disease—a CVD in which narrowing of the heart's blood vessels by fatty deposits slows the blood supply to the heart and may eventually cause a heart attack—is the leading cause of death, and stroke—a CVD in which the brain's blood supply is interrupted—is the fourth leading cause of death. Globally, both the incidence of CVD (the number of new cases in a population every year) and its prevalence (the proportion of the population with CVD) are increasing, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. This increasing burden of CVD is occurring in parallel with a global increase in the incidence and prevalence of obesity—having an unhealthy amount of body fat (adiposity)—and of metabolic diseases—conditions such as diabetes in which metabolism (the processes that the body uses to make energy from food) is disrupted, with resulting high blood sugar and damage to the blood vessels.
Why Was This Study Done?
Epidemiological studies—investigations that record the patterns and causes of disease in populations—have reported an association between adiposity (indicated by an increased body mass index [BMI], which is calculated by dividing body weight in kilograms by height in meters squared) and cardiometabolic traits such as coronary heart disease, stroke, heart failure (a condition in which the heart is incapable of pumping sufficient amounts of blood around the body), diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), and high blood cholesterol (dyslipidemia). However, observational studies cannot prove that adiposity causes any particular cardiometabolic trait because overweight individuals may share other characteristics (confounding factors) that are the real causes of both obesity and the cardiometabolic disease. Moreover, it is possible that having CVD or a metabolic disease causes obesity (reverse causation). For example, individuals with heart failure cannot do much exercise, so heart failure may cause obesity rather than vice versa. Here, the researchers use “Mendelian randomization” to examine whether adiposity is causally related to various cardiometabolic traits. Because gene variants are inherited randomly, they are not prone to confounding and are free from reverse causation. It is known that a genetic variant (rs9939609) within the genome region that encodes the fat-mass- and obesity-associated gene (FTO) is associated with increased BMI. Thus, an investigation of the associations between rs9939609 and cardiometabolic traits can indicate whether obesity is causally related to these traits.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed the association between rs9939609 (the “instrumental variable,” or IV) and BMI, between rs9939609 and 24 cardiometabolic traits, and between BMI and the same traits using genetic and health data collected in 36 population-based studies of nearly 200,000 individuals of European descent. They then quantified the strength of the causal association between BMI and the cardiometabolic traits by calculating “IV estimators.” Higher BMI showed a causal relationship with heart failure, metabolic syndrome (a combination of medical disorders that increases the risk of developing CVD), type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension, increased blood levels of liver enzymes (an indicator of liver damage; some metabolic disorders involve liver damage), and several other cardiometabolic traits. All the IV estimators were similar to the BMI–cardiovascular trait associations (observational estimates) derived from the same individuals, with the exception of diabetes, where the causal estimate was higher than the observational estimate, probably because the observational estimate is based on a single BMI measurement, whereas the causal estimate considers lifetime changes in BMI.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Like all Mendelian randomization studies, the reliability of the causal associations reported here depends on several assumptions made by the researchers. Nevertheless, these findings provide support for many previously suspected and biologically plausible causal relationships, such as that between adiposity and hypertension. They also provide new insights into the causal effect of obesity on liver enzyme levels and on heart failure. In the latter case, these findings suggest that a one-unit increase in BMI might increase the incidence of heart failure by 17%. In the US, this corresponds to 113,000 additional cases of heart failure for every unit increase in BMI at the population level. Although additional studies are needed to confirm and extend these findings, these results suggest that global efforts to reduce the burden of obesity will likely also reduce the occurrence of CVD and metabolic disorders.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001474.
The American Heart Association provides information on all aspects of cardiovascular disease and tips on keeping the heart healthy, including weight management (in several languages); its website includes personal stories about stroke and heart attacks
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information on heart disease, stroke, and all aspects of overweight and obesity (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about cardiovascular disease and obesity, including a personal story about losing weight
The World Health Organization provides information on obesity (in several languages)
The International Obesity Taskforce provides information about the global obesity epidemic
Wikipedia has a page on Mendelian randomization (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
MedlinePlus provides links to other sources of information on heart disease, on vascular disease, on obesity, and on metabolic disorders (in English and Spanish)
The International Association for the Study of Obesity provides maps and information about obesity worldwide
The International Diabetes Federation has a web page that describes types, complications, and risk factors of diabetes
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001474
PMCID: PMC3692470  PMID: 23824655
7.  Primary prevention of coronary heart disease: integration of new data, evolving views, revised goals, and role of rosuvastatin in management. A comprehensive survey 
A recent explosion in the amount of cardiovascular risk and incipient, undetected subclinical cardiovascular pathology has swept across the globe. Nearly 70% of adult Americans are overweight or obese; the prevalence of visceral obesity stands at 53% and continues to rise. At any one time, 55% of the population is on a weight-loss diet, and almost all fail. Fewer than 15% of adults or children exercise sufficiently, and over 60% engage in no vigorous activity. Among adults, 11%–13% have diabetes, 34% have hypertension, 36% have prehypertension, 36% have prediabetes, 12% have both prediabetes and prehypertension, and 15% of the population with either diabetes, hypertension, or dyslipidemia are undiagnosed. About one-third of the adult population, and 80% of the obese, have fatty livers. With 34% of children overweight or obese, prevalence having doubled in just a few years, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and fatty livers in children are at their highest levels ever. Half of adults have at least one cardiovascular risk factor. Not even 1% of the population attains ideal cardiovascular health. Despite falling coronary death rates for decades, coronary heart disease (CHD) death rates in US women 35 to 54 years of age may now be increasing because of the obesity epidemic. Up to 65% of patients do not have their conventional risk biomarkers under control. Only 30% of high risk patients with CHD achieve aggressive low density lipoprotein (LDL) targets. Of those patients with multiple risk factors, fewer than 10% have all of them adequately controlled. Even when patients are titrated to evidence-based targets, about 70% of cardiac events remain unaddressed. Undertreatment is also common. About two-thirds of high risk primary care patients are not taking needed medications for dyslipidemia. Poor patient adherence, typically below 50%, adds further difficulty. Hence, after all such fractional reductions are multiplied, only a modest portion of total cardiovascular risk burden is actually being eliminated, and the full potential of risk reduction remains unrealized. Worldwide the situation is similar, with the prevalence of metabolic syndrome approaching 50%. Primordial prevention, resulting from healthful lifestyle habits that do not permit the appearance of risk factors, is the preferred method to lower cardiovascular risk. Lowering the prevalence of obesity is the most urgent matter, and is pleiotropic since it affects blood pressure, lipid profiles, glucose metabolism, inflammation, and atherothrombotic disease progression. Physical activity also improves several risk factors, with the additional potential to lower heart rate. Given the current obstacles, success of primordial prevention remains uncertain. At the same time, the consequences of delay and inaction will inevitably be disastrous, and the sense of urgency mounts. Since most CHD events arise in a large subpopulation of low- to moderate-risk individuals, identifying a high proportion of those who will go on to develop events with accuracy remains unlikely. Without a refinement in risk prediction, the current model of targeting high-risk individuals for aggressive therapy may not succeed alone, especially given the rising burden of risk. Estimating cardiovascular risk over a period of 10 years, using scoring systems such as Framingham or SCORE, continues to enjoy widespread use and is recommended for all adults. Limitations in the former have been of concern, including the under- or over-estimation of risk in specific populations, a relatively short 10-year risk horizon, focus on myocardial infarction and CHD death, and exclusion of family history. Classification errors may occur in up to 37% of individuals, particularly women and the young. Several different scoring systems are discussed in this review. The use of lifetime risk is an important conceptual advance, since ≥90% of young adults with a low 10-year risk have a lifetime risk of ≥39%; over half of all American adults have a low 10-year risk but a high lifetime risk. At age 50 the absence of traditional risk factors is associated with extremely low lifetime risk and significantly greater longevity. Pathological and epidemiological data confirm that atherosclerosis begins in early childhood, and advances seamlessly and inexorably throughout life. Risk factors in childhood are similar to those in adults, and track between stages of life. When indicated, aggressive treatment should begin at the earliest indication, and be continued for years. For those patients at intermediate risk according to global risk scores, C-reactive protein (CRP), coronary artery calcium (CAC), and carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) are available for further stratification. Using statins for primary prevention is recommended by guidelines, is prevalent, but remains underprescribed. Statin drugs are unrivaled, evidence-based, major weapons to lower cardiovascular risk. Even when low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) targets are attained, over half of patients continue to have disease progression and clinical events. This residual risk is of great concern, and multiple sources of remaining risk exist. Though clinical evidence is incomplete, altering or raising the blood high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) level continues to be pursued. Of all agents available, rosuvastatin produces the greatest reduction in LDL-C, LDL-P, and improvement in apoA-I/apoB, together with a favorable safety profile. Several recent proposals and methods to lower cardiovascular risk are reviewed. A combination of approaches, such as the addition of lifetime risk, refinement of risk prediction, guideline compliance, novel treatments, improvement in adherence, and primordial prevention, including environmental and social intervention, will be necessary to lower the present high risk burden.
doi:10.2147/DDDT.S14934
PMCID: PMC3140289  PMID: 21792295
primary prevention; cardiovascular risk; coronary heart disease; primordial prevention; rosuvastatin; JUPITER study; statin drugs; C-reactive protein; inflammation; low-density lipoprotein; high-density lipoprotein; diabetes; metabolic syndrome; Framingham risk score; Reynolds risk score; SCORE; coronary artery calcification; carotid intima-media thickness; hypertension; obesity; non-HDL-cholesterol; LDL-P; dysfunctional HDL; lifetime risk; advanced lipid testing; Bogalusa Heart Study
8.  Burden of Subclinical Cardiovascular Disease in “Metabolically Benign” and “At-Risk” Overweight and Obese Women: The Study of Women's Health Across the Nation (SWAN) 
Atherosclerosis  2011;217(1):179-186.
Background
Metabolically benign obese individuals have a 10-year cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk comparable to healthy normal weight individuals. However, the burden of subclinical CVD among metabolically benign obese is not well known.
Methods
In cross-sectional analyses of 475 mid-life women, we compared common carotid artery intima media thickness (CCA-IMT), aortic pulse wave velocity (aPWV) and coronary (CAC) and aortic calcification (AC) among three groups: healthy normal weight, metabolically benign overweight/obese (<3 metabolic syndrome components/elevated CRP), and at-risk overweight/obese (≥3 metabolic syndrome components/elevated CRP).
Results
The mean (SD) CCA-IMT and aPWV were lowest in the normal weight group (n=145), followed by the benign overweight/obese (n=260) and at-risk overweight/obese (n=70) groups [CCA-IMT: 0.64 (0.08) vs. 0.68 (0.09) vs. 0.73 (0.13) mm, p<0.001; aPWV: 731.0 (176.4) vs. 809.9 (182.3) vs. 875.7 (228.8) cm/s, p<0.001]. Similar results were found for the frequency (%) of women with increased CAC and AC [CAC: 13 (9%) vs. 53(20%) vs. 28(40%), p<0.001; AC: 47(32%) vs. 130 (50%) vs. 55(79%), p<0.001]. These differences remained significant after multivariable adjustment. Further adjustment for BMI attenuated the statistical significance of differences in aPWV and calcification between benign and at-risk overweight/obese women, but had little effect on the magnitude of these differences.
Conclusions
Metabolically benign overweight/obese women have a significantly greater subclinical CVD burden than normal weight women, despite published data finding similar CVD event rates between the two groups. Prospective studies tracking the progression of subclinical atherosclerosis to clinical CVD in these women are needed.
doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2011.01.007
PMCID: PMC3117052  PMID: 21310415
Obesity phenotypes; subclinical atherosclerosis; carotid intima media thickness; pulse wave velocity; coronary calcification; aortic calcification
9.  Cholesteryl Ester Transfer Protein Genetic Polymorphisms, HDL Cholesterol, and Subclinical Cardiovascular Disease in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Atherosclerosis  2008;200(2):359-367.
The cholesteryl ester transport protein (CETP) plays a key role in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) metabolism. Genetic variants that alter CETP activity and concentration may cause significant alterations in HDL-cholesterol (HDL-C) concentration; however, controversies remain about whether these genetic variants are associated with atherosclerosis. We genotyped the CETP R451Q, A373P, -629C/A, Taq1B, and -2505C/A polymorphisms in a cohort of Caucasian, Chinese, African-American, and Hispanic individuals within the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Genotypes were examined in relationship to HDL-C, CETP activity, CETP concentration, and three measures of subclinical cardiovascular disease (CVD): coronary artery calcium (CAC) measured by fast CT scanning, and carotid intimal-medial thickness (IMT) and carotid artery plaque, measured by ultrasonography. Carriers of the 451Q and 373P alleles have significantly higher CETP concentration (22.4% and 19.5%, respectively; p<0.001) and activity (13.1% and 9.4%, respectively; p<0.01) and lower HDL-C (5.6% and 6.0%, respectively; p<0.05). The minor alleles of the R451Q and A373P polymorphisms are associated with the presence of CAC, even after adjusting for CVD risk factors and HDL-C (p=0.006 and p=0.01, respectively). The R451Q polymorphism is also associated with presence of carotid artery plaque (p=0.036). Neither polymorphism is associated with common or internal carotid IMT. We confirmed that the -629A, Taq1B B2, and -2505A alleles are significantly associated with lower CETP concentration (20.8%, 25.0%, and 23.7%, respectively; p<0.001) and activity (14.8%, 19.8%, and 18.4%, respectively; p<0.001) and higher HDL-C concentration (9.7%, 11.5%, and 10.4%, respectively; p<0.01). However, we did not find any associations between these non-coding polymorphisms and subclinical CVD.
doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2007.12.038
PMCID: PMC3612981  PMID: 18243217
CETP; CVD; HDL; MESA
10.  The Epidemiology of Subclavian Stenosis and its Association with Markers of Subclinical Atherosclerosis: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) 
Atherosclerosis  2010;211(1):266-270.
Background
Recent studies indicate that subclavian stenosis (SS), diagnosed by a large systolic blood pressure difference (SBPD) between the right and left brachial arteries, is associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors and outcomes. We sought to describe the epidemiology of SS and determine its association with markers of subclinical CVD in the baseline cohort of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis.
Methods
We defined SS by an absolute SBPD ≥15 mmHg. Peripheral artery disease (PAD) was defined by an ankle-brachial index ≤0.90. The coronary artery calcium score (CAC) and the common-carotid artery intima-media thickness (CCA-IMT) were measured by computed tomography and B-mode ultrasound, respectively. Odds ratios for the associations of SS with risk factors and subclinical disease were estimated using logistic regression.
Results
Of 6,743 subjects studied, 307 participants (4.6%) had SS, with a higher prevalence in women (5.1%) than men (3.9%), and in African-Americans (7.4%) and non-Hispanic whites (5.1%) than Hispanic (1.9%) or Chinese (1.0%) participants (p<0.01). In a model including age, gender, ethnicity, traditional and novel CVD risk factors, significant associations with SS were observed for C-reactive protein (highest vs. three lower quartiles: OR=1.41; 95%CI: 1.06-1.87) and brachial artery pulse pressure (OR=1.12 /10 mmHg; 95%CI: 1.03-1.21). Adjusted for age, gender, ethnicity, traditional and novel CVD risk factors, SS was significantly associated with PAD (OR=2.35; 1.55-3.56), with CCA-IMT (highest vs. the lower three quartiles: OR=1.32; 1.00-1.75), and high CAC (score >100 vs. score=0; OR=1.43; 1.03-2.01).
Conclusions
The subclavian stenosis is positively associated with other markers of subclinical atherosclerosis.
doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2010.01.013
PMCID: PMC2925848  PMID: 20138280
subclavian artery; blood pressure; atherosclerosis; epidemiology
11.  Pericardial Fat is Associated with Carotid Stiffness in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Background and Aims
Arterial stiffness is a prominent feature of vascular aging and a risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Fat around the heart and blood vessels (i.e. pericardial fat, Pfat) may contribute to arterial stiffness via a local paracrine effect of adipose tissue on the surrounding vasculature. Thus, we determined the association between Pfat and carotid stiffness in 5,770 participants (mean age 62 yrs, 53% female, 25% African American, 24% Hispanic, and 13% Chinese) from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis.
Methods and Results
Pfat was measured by computed tomography, and ultrasonography of the common carotid artery was used to calculate the distensibility coefficient (DC) and young’s modulus (YM). Lower DC and higher YM values indicate stiffer arteries. Pfat quartile was highly associated with demographic, behavioral, anthropometric, hemodynamic, metabolic, and disease variables in both men and women. After adjusting for height, clinical site, CVD risk factors, and medications, a 1-standard deviation (41.91 cm3) increment in Pfat was associated with a 0.00007±0.00002 1/mmHg lower DC (p=0.0002) in men and a 48.1±15.1 mmHg/mm higher YM in women (p=0.002). Additional adjustment for C-reactive protein, coronary artery calcification, and carotid intima-media thickness had only modest effects. More importantly, adjusting for body mass index and waist circumference did not significantly change the overall results.
Conclusion
Higher Pfat is associated with higher carotid stiffness, independent of traditional CVD risk factors and obesity.
doi:10.1016/j.numecd.2009.10.010
PMCID: PMC2929306  PMID: 20153618
pericardial fat; arterial stiffness; distensibility; carotid artery
12.  Pulse Pressure and Subclinical Cardiovascular Disease in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
American Journal of Hypertension  2013;26(5):636-642.
BACKGROUND
Brachial pulse pressure (PP) has been found to be associated with markers of subclinical cardiovascular disease, including carotid intima–media thickness and left-ventricular mass index (LVMI), but it is unclear whether these associations are independent of traditional cardiovascular risk factors and of the steady, nonpulsatile component of blood pressure (BP). Moreover, it is unknown whether these associations are modified by gender, age, or race/ethnicity.
METHODS
We used multivariate linear regression models to assess the relationship between brachial PP and three markers of subclinical cardiovascular disease (CVD) (common carotid intima–media thickness (CC-IMT), internal carotid intima–media thickness (IC-IMT), and LVMI) in four race/ethnic groups in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. The models were adjusted for traditional Framingham risk factors (age, low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol, diabetes, smoking status), use of lipid-lowering medication, use of antihypertensive medication, study site, and mean arterial pressure (MAP).
RESULTS
The assessment was done on 6,776 participants (2,612 non-Hispanic white, 1,870 African-American, 1,494 Hispanic, and 800 Chinese persons). The associations between brachial PP and CC-IMT, IC-IMT, and LVMI were significant in fully adjusted models. The three subclinical markers also showed significant interactions with gender (P < 0.0001), with stronger interactions in men. There was an interaction with age for LVMI (P = 0.004) and IC-IMT (P = 0.008). Race/ethnicity modified the association of PP with CC-IMT.
CONCLUSIONS
Brachial PP was independently associated with subclinical CVD after adjustment for cardiovascular risk factors and mean arterial pressure (MAP). The strength of the association differed significantly for strata of gender, age, and race/ethnicity.
doi:10.1093/ajh/hps092
PMCID: PMC3657481  PMID: 23388832
pulse pressare; subclinical cardiovascular disease; carotid intima–media thickness; left ventricular mass index; aging; hypertension; arterial stiffness; blood pressure.
13.  Is Diabetic Retinopathy Related to Subclinical Cardiovascular Disease? 
Ophthalmology  2010;118(5):860-865.
OBJECTIVE
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.
DESIGN
Population-based, cross-sectional epidemiologic study
PARTICIPANTS
Nine hundred and twenty seven persons with diabetes without clinical CVD in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis.
METHODS
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.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES
Associations between DR and subclinical CVD measures.
RESULTS
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.
CONCLUSIONS
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.
doi:10.1016/j.ophtha.2010.08.040
PMCID: PMC3087839  PMID: 21168222
14.  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.
doi:10.1038/oby.2010.229
PMCID: PMC3510267  PMID: 20930713
15.  Risk Factor Treatment in Veteran Women at Risk for Cardiovascular Disease 
Objectives
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in women. Aggressive management of atherosclerotic risk factors can prevent or delay the onset of CVD. Treatment of modifiable risk factors provides an important opportunity to reduce the burden of CVD in women and decrease future adverse event rates. The aims of this study were to assess current treatment of atherosclerotic risk factors in women found to be at moderate or high-risk for CVD and to examine levels of CVD knowledge and awareness among women found to be at moderate or high-risk for CVD
Methods
In a cross-sectional study, we screened ambulatory female veterans aged 40 to 85 years for the prevalence of PVD and associated atherosclerotic risk factors, and administered a survey to assess the participants’ knowledge and awareness of CVD, risk factors, and consequences. Medical records, pharmacy data, and clinician encounter notes were reviewed for documented evidence of CVD risk factors, comorbidities, and corresponding treatment. From a total cohort of 162 women, 108 (66.7%) were categorized as having an increased risk of cardiovascular disease based on a modification of the Framingham cardiovascular risk score which took into account the presence of carotid intimal-medial thickness (cIMT) > 1.0 mm or ankle-brachial index ≤ 0.9, as determined by a voluntary, one time, non-invasive screening.
Results
In no category of CVD risk factor were 100% of the women receiving adequate medical or behavioral management. Especially surprising to us were the low levels of treatment for women with heart disease, smoking, and previous history of PAD. Over half of the women who were post-menopausal or who have had hysterectomy at the time of this study, continued to use HRT despite warnings about its role in CAD, stroke, and PAD. One third of moderate- to high-risk women had evidence of increased cIMT, which is a known surrogate marker of subclinical heart disease. Knowledge and awareness scores were low, regardless of risk factor level and respectable levels of education.
Conclusions
Our findings show a high prevalence of CVD risk factors and low knowledge levels among ambulatory veteran women. There is a need for improvement in recognition and aggressive management of CVD risk factors, including the use of non-invasive studies as surrogate markers for early diagnosis. Continued efforts to educate women and providers about CVD risk factors, heart-healthy behaviors, screening, and treatment are vital to improve the current state of women’s health and decrease future adverse cardiac event rates.
doi:10.1016/j.jss.2008.07.014
PMCID: PMC2821709  PMID: 19482299
16.  Abdominal Aortic Diameter and Vascular Atherosclerosis: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Objectives
To gain insight into early mechanisms of aortic widening, we examined associations between the diameter of the abdominal aorta (AD) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors and biomarkers, as well as measures of subclinical atherosclerosis, in a multi-ethnic population.
Design
Cross-sectional cohort
Methods
A total of 1926 participants (mean age 62, 50% women) underwent chest and abdomen scanning by computed tomography, ultrasound of the carotid arteries, and CVD risk factor assessment. AD was measured 5 cm above and at the bifurcation.
Results
In a model containing traditional CVD risk factors, biomarkers and ethnicity, only age (standardized β=0.97), male sex (β=1.88), body surface area (standardized β=0.92), current smoking (β=0.42), D-dimer levels (β=0.19) and hypertension (β=0.53) were independently and significantly associated with increasing AD (in mm) at the bifurcation; use of cholesterol-lowering medications predicted smaller AD (β=-0.70) (P<.01 for all). These findings were similar for AD 5 cm above the bifurcation with one exception: compared to Caucasian-Americans, Americans of Chinese, African and Hispanic descent had significantly smaller AD 5 cm above the bifurcation (β's= -0.59, -0.49, and -0.52, respectively, all P<.01), whereas AD at the bifurcation did not differ by ethnicity. Physical activity, alcohol consumption, diabetes and levels of IL-6, CRP and homocysteine were not independently associated with AD. Higher aortic and coronary artery calcium burden, but not common carotid artery intima-media thickness, were independently, but modestly (β=0.11 to 0.19), associated with larger AD.
Conclusions
Incremental widening of the aortic diameter shared some, but not all, risk factors for occlusive vascular disease.
doi:10.1016/j.ejvs.2010.12.015
PMCID: PMC3070051  PMID: 21236707
aorta; aneurysm; atherosclerosis; ethnicity; epidemiology
17.  Association between carotid intima-media thickness and index of central fat distribution in middle-aged and elderly Chinese 
Cardiovascular Diabetology  2014;13(1):139.
Background
Evidence has demonstrated that central fat distribution produces the most profound metabolic abnormalities and is associated with an increased risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases. We aimed to investigate whether the indexes of central fat distribution, including waist-to-height ratio (WHtR) and visceral fat area (VFA), were stronger risk factors of subclinical atherosclerosis than body mass index (BMI) in Chinese adults.
Methods
A total of 3381 participants aged 40 years or older without history of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) were enrolled in the present cross-sectional study from the Songnan community, Shanghai, China. Height, weight and waist circumference (WC) were measured by experienced physicians. High-resolution B-mode ultrasonography was performed to measure carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT). Regional adiposity was measured by a dual-source computed tomography (CT) scanner.
Results
Normal weight but central obesity group (BMI < 23 kg/m2 and WHtR > 0.5) had higher levels of systolic blood pressure (SBP), fasting plasma glucose (FPG), 2 h post-load glucose (2 h PG), Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), and CIMT, as well as an elevated prevalence of hypertension and diabetes compared with overweight/obesity but not central obesity group (BMI ≥ 23 kg/m2 and WHtR ≤ 0.5). In logistic regression analysis, WHtR > 0.5 was significantly and independently associated with elevated CIMT (odds ratio [OR] 1.30, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.01-1.68, p value = 0.044). Similar association was noted for each standard deviation (SD) increase of WHtR (OR 1.25, 95% CI 1.07-1.47, p value = 0.006). Stepwise multiple linear regression analysis revealed that both WHtR and VFA were important determinants of CIMT, independent of other well-recognized risk factors (both p values < 0.01).
Conclusions
WHtR and VFA were associated with CIMT, independent of BMI and conventional CVD risk factors. Given the relatively high cost and complexness of VFA measurement, WHtR could be a more convenient and appropriate measure of abdominal obesity in clinical practice.
doi:10.1186/s12933-014-0139-2
PMCID: PMC4219037  PMID: 25359238
Waist-to-height ratio; Visceral fat area; Carotid intima-media thickness
18.  Abdominal Aortic Calcium and Multi-Site Atherosclerosis: The Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Atherosclerosis  2011;214(2):436-441.
Background
Abdominal aortic calcification (AAC) is a measure of subclinical cardiovascular disease (CVD). Data are limited regarding its relation to other measures of atherosclerosis.
Methods
Among 1,812 subjects (49% female, 21% black, 14% Chinese, and 25% Hispanic) within the population-based Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, we examined the cross-sectional relation of AAC with coronary artery calcium (CAC), ankle brachial index (ABI), and carotid intimal medial thickness (CIMT), as well as multiple measures of subclinical CVD.
Results
AAC prevalence ranged from 34% in those aged 45–54 to 94% in those aged 75–84 (p<0.0001), was highest in Caucasians (79%) and lowest in blacks (62%) (p<0.0001). CAC prevalence, mean maximum CIMT ≥ 1 mm, and ABI<0.9 was greater in those with vs. without AAC: CAC 60% vs 16%, CIMT 38% vs 7%, and ABI 5% vs 1% for women and CAC 80% vs 37%, CIMT 43% vs 16%, and ABI 4% vs 2% for men (p<0.01 for all except p<0.05 for ABI in men). The presence of multi-site atherosclerosis (≥ 3 of the above) ranged from 20% in women and 30% in men (p<0.001), was highest in Caucasians (28%) and lowest in Chinese (16%) and ranged from 5% in those aged 45–54 to 53% in those aged 75–84 (p<0.01 to p<0.001). Finally, increased AAC was associated with 2 to 3-fold relative risks for the presence of increased CIMT, low ABI, or CAC.
Conclusions
AAC is associated with an increased likelihood of other vascular atherosclerosis. Its additive prognostic value to these other measures is of further interest.
doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2010.09.011
PMCID: PMC3040451  PMID: 21035803
atherosclerosis; calcification; cardiovascular disease; epidemiology
19.  Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels are not associated with subclinical vascular disease or C-reactive protein in the Old Order Amish 
Calcified tissue international  2009;84(3):195-202.
Background
The relationship between vitamin D metabolites and subclinical vascular disease is controversial. Because low serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] have been associated with many cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors, we hypothesized that serum 25(OH)D levels would be inversely associated with inflammation as measured by C-reactive protein (CRP) and with subclinical vascular disease as measured by carotid intimal medial thickness (cIMT) and coronary artery calcification (CAC).
Methods
We measured 25(OH)D levels in 650 Amish participants. CAC was measured by computed tomography, and cIMT by ultrasound. The associations of 25(OH)D levels with natural log(CAC+1), cIMT, and natural log(CRP) levels were estimated following adjustment for age, sex, family structure, and season of examination. Additional analyses were carried out adjusting for body mass index (BMI) and other CVD risk factors.
Results
25(OH)D deficiency (<20 ng/ml) and insufficiency (21-30 ng/ml) were common among the Amish (38.2% and 47.7%, respectively). 25(OH)D levels were associated with season, age, BMI, and parathyroid hormone levels. In neither the minimally or fully adjusted analyses were significant correlations observed between 25(OH)D levels and CAC, cIMT, or CRP (R2 < 0.01 for all).
Conclusion
Contrary to our hypothesis, this study failed to detect a cross-sectional association between serum 25(OH)D levels and CAC, cIMT, or CRP. Either there is no causal relationship between 25(OH)D and CVD risk, or, if there is, it may be mediated through mechanisms other than subclinical vascular disease severity.
doi:10.1007/s00223-008-9209-3
PMCID: PMC2908302  PMID: 19148561
20.  The Association Between A1C and Subclinical Cardiovascular Disease 
Diabetes Care  2009;32(9):1727-1733.
OBJECTIVE
To test the hypothesis that A1C is associated with subclinical cardiovascular disease (CVD) in a population without evident diabetes, after adjusting for traditional CVD risk factors and BMI.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
This was a cross-sectional study of 5,121 participants without clinically evident CVD or diabetes (fasting glucose ≥7.0 mmol/l or use of diabetes medication), aged 47–86 years, enrolled in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Measurements included carotid intimal-medial wall thickness (CIMT) and coronary artery calcification (CAC). Results were adjusted for age, sex, ethnicity, smoking, systolic blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, antihypertensive medication use, lipid-lowering medication use, and BMI.
RESULTS
Compared with those in the lowest quartile for A1C ([mean ± SD] 5.0 ± 0.2%), participants in the highest quartile (6.0 ± 0.3%) had higher adjusted mean values for common CIMT (0.85 vs. 0.87 mm, P = 0.003) and internal CIMT (1.01 vs. 1.08 mm, P = 0.003). A1C quartile was not associated with prevalence of CAC in the entire cohort (P = 0.27); however, the association was statistically significant in women (adjusted prevalence of CAC in lowest and highest A1C quartiles 37.5 vs. 43.0%, P = 0.01). Among those with some CAC, higher A1C quartile tended to be associated with higher CAC score, but the results were not statistically significant (adjusted P = 0.11).
CONCLUSIONS
In this multiethnic cohort, there were small, positive associations between A1C, common CIMT, and internal CIMT in the absence of clinically evident diabetes. An association between higher A1C and CAC prevalence was evident only in women.
doi:10.2337/dc09-0074
PMCID: PMC2732160  PMID: 19549732
21.  Analysis of common and coding variants with cardiovascular disease in the diabetes heart study 
Background
Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is a major cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factor. Identification of genetic risk factors for CVD is important to understand disease risk. Two recent genome-wide association study (GWAS) meta-analyses in the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology (CHARGE) consortium detected CVD-associated loci.
Methods
Variants identified in CHARGE were tested for association with CVD phenotypes, including vascular calcification, and conventional CVD risk factors, in the Diabetes Heart Study (DHS) (n = 1208; >80% T2DM affected). This included 36 genotyped or imputed single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from DHS GWAS data. 28 coding SNPs from 14 top CHARGE genes were also identified from exome sequencing resources and genotyped, along with 209 coding variants from the Illumina HumanExome BeadChip genotype data in the DHS were also tested. Genetic risk scores (GRS) were calculated to evaluate the association of combinations of variants with CVD measures.
Results
After correction for multiple comparisons, none of the CHARGE SNPs were associated with vascular calcification (p < 0.0014). Multiple SNPs showed nominal significance with calcification, including rs599839 (PSRC1, p = 0.008), rs646776 (CELSR2, p = 0.01), and rs17398575 (PIK3CG, p = 0.009). Additional COL4A2 and CXCL12 SNPs were nominally associated with all-cause or CVD-cause mortality. Three SNPs were significantly or nominally associated with serum lipids: rs3135506 (Ser19Trp, APOA5) with triglycerides (TG) (p = 5×10−5), LDL (p = 0.00070), and nominally with high density lipoprotein (HDL) (p = 0.0054); rs651821 (5′UTR, APOA5) with increased TGs (p = 0.0008); rs13832449 (splice donor, APOC3) associated with decreased TGs (p = 0.0015). Rs45456595 (CDKN2A, Gly63Arg), rs5128 (APOC3, 3′UTR), and rs72650673 (SH2B3, Glu400Lys) were nominally associated with history of CVD, subclinical CVD, or CVD risk factors (p < 0.010). From the exome chip, rs3750103 (CHN2, His204Arg/His68Arg) with carotid intima-medial thickness (IMT) (p = 3.9×10−5), and rs61937878 (HAL, Val549Met) with infra-renal abdominal aorta CP (AACP) (p = 7.1×10−5). The unweighted GRS containing coronary artery calcified plaque (CAC) SNPs was nominally associated with history of prior CVD (p = 0.033; OR = 1.09). The weighted GRS containing SNPs was associated with CAC and myocardial infarction (MI) was associated with history of MI (p = 0.026; OR = 1.15).
Conclusions
Genetic risk factors for subclinical CVD in the general population (CHARGE) were modestly associated with T2DM-related risk factors and CVD outcomes in the DHS.
doi:10.1186/1475-2840-13-77
PMCID: PMC4021556  PMID: 24725463
Coronary artery calcified plaque; Type 2 diabetes mellitus; Cardiovascular disease; Genetic risk score
22.  Personalized Prediction of Lifetime Benefits with Statin Therapy for Asymptomatic Individuals: A Modeling Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(12):e1001361.
In a modeling study conducted by Myriam Hunink and colleagues, a population-based cohort from Rotterdam is used to predict the possible lifetime benefits of statin therapy, on a personalized basis.
Background
Physicians need to inform asymptomatic individuals about personalized outcomes of statin therapy for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, current prediction models focus on short-term outcomes and ignore the competing risk of death due to other causes. We aimed to predict the potential lifetime benefits with statin therapy, taking into account competing risks.
Methods and Findings
A microsimulation model based on 5-y follow-up data from the Rotterdam Study, a population-based cohort of individuals aged 55 y and older living in the Ommoord district of Rotterdam, the Netherlands, was used to estimate lifetime outcomes with and without statin therapy. The model was validated in-sample using 10-y follow-up data. We used baseline variables and model output to construct (1) a web-based calculator for gains in total and CVD-free life expectancy and (2) color charts for comparing these gains to the Systematic Coronary Risk Evaluation (SCORE) charts. In 2,428 participants (mean age 67.7 y, 35.5% men), statin therapy increased total life expectancy by 0.3 y (SD 0.2) and CVD-free life expectancy by 0.7 y (SD 0.4). Age, sex, smoking, blood pressure, hypertension, lipids, diabetes, glucose, body mass index, waist-to-hip ratio, and creatinine were included in the calculator. Gains in total and CVD-free life expectancy increased with blood pressure, unfavorable lipid levels, and body mass index after multivariable adjustment. Gains decreased considerably with advancing age, while SCORE 10-y CVD mortality risk increased with age. Twenty-five percent of participants with a low SCORE risk achieved equal or larger gains in CVD-free life expectancy than the median gain in participants with a high SCORE risk.
Conclusions
We developed tools to predict personalized increases in total and CVD-free life expectancy with statin therapy. The predicted gains we found are small. If the underlying model is validated in an independent cohort, the tools may be useful in discussing with patients their individual outcomes with statin therapy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) affects the heart and/or the blood vessels and is a major cause of illness and death worldwide. In the US, for example, coronary heart disease—a CVD in which narrowing of the heart's blood vessels by fatty deposits slows the blood supply to the heart and may eventually cause a heart attack—is the leading cause of death, and stroke—a CVD in which the brain's blood supply is interrupted—is the fourth leading cause of death. Established risk factors for CVD include smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, and high blood levels of a fat called low-density lipoprotein (“bad cholesterol”). Because many of these risk factors can be modified by lifestyle changes and by drugs, CVD can be prevented. Thus, physicians can assess a healthy individual's risk of developing CVD using a CVD prediction model (equations that take into account the CVD risk factors to which the individual is exposed) and can then recommend lifestyle changes and medications to reduce that individual's CVD risk.
Why Was This Study Done?
Current guidelines recommend that asymptomatic (healthy) individuals whose likely CVD risk is high should be encouraged to take statins—cholesterol-lowering drugs—as a preventative measure. Statins help to prevent CVD in healthy people with a high predicted risk of CVD, but, like all medicines, they have some unwanted side effects, so it is important that physicians can communicate both the benefits and drawbacks of statins to their patients in a way that allows them to make an informed decision about taking these drugs. Telling a patient that statins will reduce his or her short-term risk of CVD is not always helpful—patients really need to know the potential lifetime benefits of statin therapy. That is, they need to know how much longer they might live if they take statins. Here, the researchers use a mathematical model to predict the personalized lifetime benefits (increased total and CVD-free life expectancy) of statin therapy for individuals without a history of CVD.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used the Rotterdam Ischemic Heart Disease & Stroke Computer Simulation (RISC) model, which simulates the life courses of individuals through six health states, from well through to CVD or non-CVD death, to estimate lifetime outcomes with and without statin therapy in a population of healthy elderly individuals. They then used these outcomes and information on baseline risk factors to develop a web-based calculator suitable for personalized prediction of the lifetime benefits of statins in routine clinical practice. The model estimated that statin therapy increases average life expectancy in the study population by 0.3 years and average CVD-free life expectancy by 0.7 years. The gains in total and CVD-free life expectancy associated with statin therapy increased with blood pressure, unfavorable cholesterol levels, and body mass index (an indicator of body fat) but decreased with age. Notably, the web-based calculator predicted that some individuals with a low ten-year CVD risk might achieve a similar or larger gain in CVD-free life expectancy with statin therapy than some individuals with a high ten-year risk. So, for example, both a 55-year-old non-smoking woman with a ten-year CVD mortality risk of 2% (a two in a hundred chance of dying of CVD within ten years) and a 65-year-old male smoker with a ten-year CVD mortality risk of 15% might both gain one year of CVD-free life expectancy with statin therapy.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that statin therapy can lead on average to small gains in total life expectancy and slightly larger gains in CVD-free life expectancy among healthy individuals, and show that life expectancy benefits can be predicted using an individual's risk factor profile. The accuracy and generalizability of these findings is limited by the assumptions included in the model (in particular, the model did not allow for the known side effects of statin therapy) and by the data fed into it—importantly, the risk prediction model needs to be validated using an independent dataset. If future research confirms the findings of this study, the researchers' web-based calculator could provide complementary information to the currently recommended ten-year CVD mortality risk assessment. Whether communication of personalized outcomes will ultimately result in better clinical outcomes remains to be seen, however, because patients may be less likely to choose statin therapy when provided with more information about its likely benefits.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001361.
The web-based calculator for personalized prediction of lifetime benefits with statin therapy is available (after agreement to software license)
The American Heart Association provides information about many types of cardiovascular disease for patients, carers, and professionals, including information about drug therapy for cholesterol and a heart attack risk calculator
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about cardiovascular disease and about statins
Information is available from the British Heart Foundation on heart disease and keeping the heart healthy; information is also available on statins, including personal stories about deciding to take statins
The US National Heart Lung and Blood Institute provides information on a wide range of cardiovascular diseases
The European Society of Cardiology's cardiovascular disease risk assessment model (SCORE) is available
MedlinePlus provides links to many other sources of information on heart diseases, vascular diseases, stroke, and statins (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001361
PMCID: PMC3531501  PMID: 23300388
23.  Tissue factor pathway inhibitor, vascular risk factors and subclinical atherosclerosis: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Atherosclerosis  2009;207(1):277-283.
Background
Tissue factor pathway inhibitor (TFPI) is an endothelial membrane-associated anticoagulant protein. Higher circulating levels might reflect endothelial damage.
Objective
We hypothesized an association of higher total TFPI with subclinical atherosclerosis.
Patients/Methods
Total TFPI was measured in 1000 participants of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, a cohort of 6814 men and women without clinical vascular disease, aged 45–84, from 4 ethnic groups. Subclinical atherosclerosis measures were coronary artery calcium (CAC), carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) and ankle-brachial index (ABI).
Results
TFPI was higher with age, male gender, higher LDL-cholesterol, smoking and diabetes, but not ethnicity. Adjusting for risk factors, TFPI in the 4th versus 1st quartile was associated with a 1.2-fold increased risk of detectable CAC (95% CI 1.0–1.4), a 2.1-fold increased risk of CAC >400 Agatston units (95% CI 1.1–4.0) and a 1.6-fold (95% CI 1.1–2.5) increased risk of internal carotid IMT above the 80th percentile, but not with external carotid IMT or low ABI. Findings were consistent across ethnic groups.
Conclusions
In this diverse population, higher total TFPI was associated with prevalent CAC (limited to levels >400 units), and elevated internal carotid IMT, independent of other factors. Higher TFPI may indicate endothelial dysfunction. Further study is needed of TFPI and progression of atherosclerosis.
doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2009.04.024
PMCID: PMC2784263  PMID: 19467658
atherosclerosis; coronary heart disease; tissue factor pathway inhibitor; risk factor
24.  Genetic ancestry is associated with subclinical cardiovascular disease in African Americans and Hispanics from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) 
Background
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1161/CIRCGENETICS.109.876243
PMCID: PMC2795643  PMID: 20031644
atherosclerosis; calcium; ancestry; epidemiology; genetics
25.  MRI detects increased coronary wall thickness in asymptomatic individuals: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) 
Purpose
To evaluate the use of coronary wall MRI as a measure of atherosclerotic disease burden in an asymptomatic population free of clinical cardiovascular disease.
Background
Coronary wall magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a noninvasive method for evaluation of arterial wall remodeling associated with atherosclerosis.
Materials and Methods
Asymptomatic participants of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) study were studied using black blood MRI. MRI assessed coronary wall thickness was compared to computed tomography calcium score, carotid intimal-medial thickness and risk factors for coronary artery disease.
Results
Eighty eight arterial segments were evaluated in 38 MESA participants (mean age, 61.3 ± 8.7 years). The maximum coronary wall thickness was greater for participants with 2 or more cardiovascular risk factors than for those with 1 or no risk factors (2.59 ± 0.33 mm versus 2.36 ± 0.30 mm, respectively, p=0.05.) For participants with zero calcium score, the mean and maximum coronary wall thickness for subjects with 2 or more risk factors for coronary artery disease were greater than the wall thickness for subjects with 1 or no risk factors (mean thickness: 1.95 ± 0.17 mm versus 1.7 ± 0.19 mm; maximum thickness: 2.67 ± 0.24 mm versus 2.32 ± 0.27 mm, respectively, p <0.05). Subjects with increased carotid intimal-medial thickness also had increased coronary artery wall thickness (p< 0.05).
Conclusions
Coronary artery wall MRI detects increased coronary wall thickness in asymptomatic individuals with subclinical markers of atherosclerotic disease and in individuals with zero calcium score.
doi:10.1002/jmri.21511
PMCID: PMC2577717  PMID: 18837001
coronary artery disease; atherosclerosis; MRI; plaque

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