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1.  Occupational characteristics and the progression of carotid artery intima-media thickness and plaque over 9 years: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) 
The role of occupation in the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains a topic of research because few studies have examined longitudinal associations, and because occupation can be an indicator of socioeconomic position (SEP) and a proxy for hazard exposure. This study examines associations of occupational category as an SEP marker and selected occupational exposures with progression of the subclinical carotid artery disease.
A community-based, multiethnic sample (n=3109, mean age=60.2) provided subclinical CVD measures at least twice at three data collection points (mean follow-up=9.4 years). After accounting for demographic characteristics, SEP, and traditional CVD risk factors, we modelled common carotid intima-media thickness, carotid plaque scores, and carotid plaque shadowing as a function of occupational category, physical hazard exposure, physical activity on the job, interpersonal stress, job control and job demands. These job characteristics were derived from the Occupational Resource Network (O*NET). Random coefficient models were used to account for repeated measures and time-varying covariates.
There were a few statistically significant associations at baseline. After all covariates were included in the model, men in management, office/sales, service and blue-collar jobs had 28–44% higher plaque scores than professionals at baseline (p=0.001). Physically hazardous jobs were positively associated with plaque scores among women (p=0.014). However, there were no significant longitudinal associations between any of the occupational characteristics and any of the subclinical CVD measures.
There was little evidence that the occupational characteristics examined in this study accelerated the progression of subclinical CVD.
PMCID: PMC4560665  PMID: 25217203
2.  Bone mineral density and atherosclerosis: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, Abdominal Aortic Calcium Study 
Atherosclerosis  2009;209(1):283-289.
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.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC4254856  PMID: 19819456
3.  Job strain among blue-collar and white-collar employees as a determinant of total mortality: a 28-year population-based follow-up 
BMJ Open  2012;2(2):e000860.
To investigate the effect of job demand, job control and job strain on total mortality among white-collar and blue-collar employees working in the public sector.
28-year prospective population-based follow-up.
Several municipals in Finland.
5731 public sector employees from the Finnish Longitudinal Study on Municipal Employees Study aged 44–58 years at baseline.
Total mortality from 1981 to 2009 among individuals with complete data on job strain in midlife, categorised according to job demand and job control: high job strain (high job demands and low job control), active job (high job demand and high job control), passive job (low job demand and low job control) and low job strain (low job demand and high job control).
1836 persons died during the follow-up. Low job control among men increased (age-adjusted HR 1.26, 95% CI 1.12 to 1.42) and high job demand among women decreased the risk for total mortality HR 0.82 (95% CI 0.71 to 0.95). Adjustment for occupational group, lifestyle and health factors attenuated the association for men. In the analyses stratified by occupational group, high job strain increased the risk of mortality among white-collar men (HR 1.52, 95% CI 1.09 to 2.13) and passive job among blue-collar men (HR 1.28, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.47) compared with men with low job strain. Adjustment for lifestyle and health factors attenuated the risks. Among white-collar women having an active job decreased the risk for mortality (HR 0.78, 95% CI 0.60 to 1.00).
The impact of job strain on mortality was different according to gender and occupational group among middle-aged public sector employees.
Article summary
Article focus
High job strain and its components, high job demand and low job control, predict cardiovascular and total mortality.
Although lower socioeconomic position is a risk factor for premature total mortality, few studies have explored the effect of job strain on mortality within socioeconomic groups and the ones that exist, report conflicting findings.
Key messages
In a population-based cohort of middle-aged public sector employees, low job control among men increased and high job demand among women decreased the risk of mortality during a 28-year follow-up.
High job strain increased the risk of mortality among white-collar men and passive job among blue-collar men compared with men with low job strain.
Active job among white-collar women decreased the risk for mortality compared with those with low job strain.
Strengths and limitations of this study
A major strength was the representative large sample of public sector employees working both in white-collar and blue-collar professions and the long follow-up time on mortality collected from the national mortality register.
A limitation is the self-reported job strain, however, high correlations between subjective and expert ratings on work conditions have been reported. The assessment of job strain was measured at a single time point in midlife which might imperfectly reflect long-term job strain, however, the municipal employees in our cohort had stable work histories indicating stability probably also for job strain during their earlier working life.
PMCID: PMC3307125  PMID: 22422919
4.  Association Between Carotid Intima-Media Thickness and Pericardial Fat in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) 
Carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) is a sub-clinical marker of atherosclerosis and a strong predictor of stroke. Pericardial fat (PF), the fat depot around the heart, has been associated with several atherosclerosis risk factors. We sought to examine the association between carotid IMT and PF, and to examine whether such an association is independent from common atherosclerosis risk factors including measures of overall adiposity.
Unadjusted and multivariable adjusted linear regression analysis was used to examine associations between common (CCA-IMT) and internal (ICA-IMT) carotid IMT with PF in a random sample of 996 participants from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) who underwent carotid ultrasound and chest CT at baseline examination.
A significant positive correlation was observed between PF and CCA-IMT (r =0.27, P<0.0001) and ICA-IMT (r =0.17, P<0.0001). In an unadjusted sex-specific linear regression analysis, there was a significant association between PF (1-SD difference) and CCA-IMT (mm) in both women (β coefficient (95% CI): 0.06 (0.04, 0.08), P<0.0001) and men (0.03 (0.01, 0.05), P<0.0002), an association that persisted after further adjusting for age and ethnicity (0.02 (+0.00, 0.04), P=0.0120 for women, and 0.02 (+0.00, 0.03), P=0.0208 for men). However, after additional adjustment for atherosclerosis risk factors and either BMI or waist circumference, these relations were no longer significant in either sex. In similar analyses, PF was significantly associated with ICA-IMT in both men (0.11 (0.06, 0.15), P<0.0001) and women (0.08 (0.02, 0.13), P=041). These relations were no longer significant in women in multivariable adjusted models, but persisted in men in all models except after adjusting for age, ethnicity and waist circumference.
In the general population PF is associated with carotid IMT, an association that possibly not independent from markers of overall adiposity or common atherosclerosis risk factors.
PMCID: PMC2817960  PMID: 20123228
5.  Relationship Between Brachial Flow - Mediated Dilation and Carotid Intima- Media Thickness in an Elderly Cohort: The Cardiovascular Health Study 
Atherosclerosis  2007;197(2):840-845.
The aim of this study was to determine the relationship between brachial flow-mediated dilation (FMD) and carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) in a large multi-ethnic elderly cohort.
Brachial flow-mediated dilation (FMD) is a physiologic measure and Carotid IMT is an anatomic structural measure of subclinical atherosclerosis. Both brachial FMD and carotid IMT have been associated with cardiovascular risk factors and cardiovascular events. The relationship between brachial FMD and carotid IMT is less clear especially in older adults.
Brachial FMD, carotid IMT and traditional cardiovascular risk factors were measured in 2338 adults, age 72–98 years who were participants in the Cardiovascular Health Study. The relationship between FMD and IMT was assessed both unadjusted and also after adjusting for age, gender, race/ethnicity. BMI, HDL, LDL, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, serum creatinine, current smoking, diabetes mellitus, hormone therapy and prior CVD.
Both brachial FMD and carotid IMT correlated significantly with age, HDL levels, waist/hip ratio, serum cholesterol and number of CV risk factors. Brachial FMD was not associated with CCA IMT in this elderly cohort (Pearson partial correlation coefficient= −0.0252, p=0.222). In the adjusted linear regression model with CCA IMT as the dependent variable, brachial FMD was also not associated with CCA IMT (beta coefficient= −0.006, p=0.470)
Brachial FMD and CCA IMT are not related in population-based older adults. Brachial FMD and CCA IMT may be distinct and independent stages in the complex atherosclerotic process.
PMCID: PMC4115586  PMID: 17804000
Brachial flow-mediated dilation; carotid intima-media thickness; endothelial function; atherosclerosis; elderly
6.  Coronary Artery Calcification Compared with Carotid Intima-Media Thickness in Prediction of Cardiovascular Disease Incidence: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) 
Archives of internal medicine  2008;168(12):1333-1339.
Coronary artery calcium (CAC) and carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) are noninvasive measures of atherosclerosis that consensus panels have recommended as possible additions to risk factor assessment for predicting the probability of cardiovascular disease (CVD) occurrence.
To assess whether maximum carotid IMT or CAC (Agatston Score) is the better predictor of incident CVD.
Design, Setting, Patients
Prospective cohort study of 45–84 year-olds initially free of CVD (n = 6,698) in four ethnic groups, with standardized carotid IMT and CAC measures at baseline, in six field centers of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA).
Main Outcome Measure(s)
Incident CVD events (coronary heart disease, stroke, and fatal CVD) over a maximum of 5.3 years of follow-up.
There were 222 CVD events during follow-up. CAC was associated more strongly than carotid IMT with risk of incident CVD. After adjustment for each other and traditional CVD risk factors, the hazard of CVD increased 2.1-fold (95% CI 1.8–2.5) for each standard deviation greater level of log-transformed CAC, versus 1.3-fold (95% CI 1.1–1.4) for each standard deviation greater maximum IMT. For coronary heart disease, the hazard ratios per standard deviation increment were 2.5-fold (95% CI 2.1–3.1) for CAC and 1.2-fold (95% CI 1.0–1.4) for IMT. An ROC analysis also suggested that CAC predicted incident CVD better than IMT did.
Although whether and how to clinically use bio-imaging tests of subclinical atherosclerosis remains a topic of debate, this study found that CAC predicts subsequent CVD events better than does carotid IMT.
PMCID: PMC2555989  PMID: 18574091
7.  Changes in Carotid Intima-Media Thickness During the Cardiac Cycle: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Common carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT), a measure of subclinical cardiovascular disease, changes during the cardiac cycle. The magnitude of this effect and its implications have not been well studied.
Methods and Results
Far-wall IMT measurements of the right common carotid artery were measured at end diastole and peak systole in 5633 individuals from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Multivariable regression models were generated with end-diastolic IMT, peak-systolic IMT, and change in IMT during the cardiac cycle as dependent variables and traditional cardiovascular risk factors as independent variables. The average age of our population was 61.9 (45 to 84) years. Average change in carotid IMT during the cardiac cycle was 0.041 mm (95% confidence interval: 0.039 to 0.042 mm), with a mean IMT of 0.68 mm. End-diastolic IMT and peak-systolic IMT were similarly associated with risk factors. In a fully adjusted model, change in carotid IMT during the cardiac cycle was associated with ethnicity and pulse pressure (P=0.001) and not age, sex, or other risk factors. Chinese and Hispanics had less of a change in IMT than did non-Hispanic whites. With peak-systolic IMT reference values used as normative data, 31.3% more individuals were classified as being in the upper quartile of IMT and at high risk for cardiovascular disease than would be expected when IMT is measured at end diastole.
Measurable differences in IMT are seen during the cardiac cycle. This affects the interpretation of IMT measurements used for cardiovascular risk assessment, given published normative data with IMT measured at peak systole.
Clinical Trial Registration
URL: Unique identifier: NCT00063440. (J Am Heart Assoc. 2012;1:e001420 doi: 10.1161/JAHA.112.001420.)
PMCID: PMC3487346  PMID: 23130162
atherosclerosis; blood pressure; carotid arteries; diastole; epidemiology; risk factors; systole; ultrasonics
8.  Risk factors and their impact on carotid intima-media thickness in young and middle-aged ischemic stroke patients and controls: The Norwegian Stroke in the Young Study 
BMC Research Notes  2014;7:176.
Vascular morbidity and mortality due to cardiovascular disease (CVD) are high after ischemic stroke at a young age. Data on carotid intima-media thickness (cIMT) as marker of atherosclerosis are scarce for young stroke populations. In this prospective case–control study, we examined cIMT, the burden of vascular risk factors (RF) and their associations among young and middle-aged ischemic stroke patients and controls. We aimed to detect clinical and sub-clinical arterial disease.
This study was conducted in 150 patients aged 15–60 years and 84 controls free of CVD. We related RF to ultrasonographic B-mode cIMT-measurements obtained from 12 standardized multiangle measurements in the common carotid artery (CCA), carotid bifurcation (BIF) and internal carotid artery (ICA).
RF burden was higher among patients than among controls (p < 0.001). In multivariate analyses of all 234 participants, increased cIMT was associated with age in each carotid segment. Incident stroke was associated with increased ICA-IMT. ICA-IMT increase was associated with a family history of CVD among patients aged 15–44 years, and with RF at mid-age. The overall cIMT difference between patients and controls was 12% for CCA, 17% for BIF and 29% for ICA. Further, increased CCA-IMT was associated with male sex and hypertension. Increased BIF-IMT was associated with dyslipidemia, coronary heart disease and smoking. Increased ICA-IMT was associated with dyslipidemia and stroke.
Ischemic stroke is associated with increased ICA-IMT, related to a family history of CVD among patients aged <45 years, and to increasing RF burden with increasing age. Preventive strategies and aggressive RF treatment are indicated to avoid future cardiovascular events.
Trial registration
NOR-SYS is registered in (NCT01597453).
PMCID: PMC3986875  PMID: 24669965
Young stroke; Ischemic stroke; Risk factors; Carotid intima-media thickness; Atherosclerosis; Ultrasound
9.  Associations of edge detected and manual traced common carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) measurements with Framingham risk factors: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) is a marker of cardiovascular disease derived from ultrasound images of the carotid artery. In most outcome studies, human readers identify and trace the key IMT interfaces. We evaluate an alternate approach using automated edge detection.
We study a subset of 5640 participants with an average age 61.7 years (48% men) of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis composed of whites, Chinese, Hispanic and African-Americans that are part of the MESA IMT progression study. Manual tracing IMT (mt_IMT) and edge-detected IMT (ed_IMT) measurements of the far wall of the common carotid artery (CCA) served as outcome variables for multivariable linear regression models using Framingham cardiovascular risk factors and ethnicity as independent predictors.
Measurements of mt_IMT was obtainable in 99.9% (5633/5640) and of ed_IMT in 98.9% (5579/5640) of individuals. Average ed_IMT was 0.19 mm larger than mt_IMT. Inter-reader systematic differences (bias) in IMT measurements were apparent for mt_IMT but not ed_IMT. Based on complete data on 5538 individuals, associations of IMT with risk factors were stronger (p < 0.0001) for mt_IMT (model r2: 19.5%) than ed_IMT (model r2: 18.5%).
We conclude that this edge-detection process generates IMT values equivalent to manually traced ones since it preserves key associations with cardiovascular risk factors. It also decreases inter-reader bias, potentially making it applicable for use in cardiovascular risk assessment.
PMCID: PMC3169166  PMID: 21546477
Ultrasonography; Risk Factors; Carotid Arteries; Carotid Intima Media Thickness
10.  Associations of Carotid Artery Intima-Media Thickness (IMT) With Risk Factors and Prevalent Cardiovascular Disease 
The goal of this study was to compare internal carotid artery (ICA) intima-media thickness (IMT) with common carotid artery (CCA) IMT as global markers of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Cross-sectional measurements of the mean CCA IMT and maximum ICA IMT were made on ultrasound images acquired from the Framingham Offspring cohort (n = 3316; mean age, 58 years; 52.7% women). Linear regression models were used to study the associations of the Framingham risk factors with CCA and ICA IMT. Multivariate logistic regression models and receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis were used to compare the associations of prevalent CVD with CCA and ICA IMT and determine sensitivity and specificity.
The association between age and the mean CCA IMT corresponded to an increase of 0.007 mm/y; the increase was 0.037 mm/y for the ICA IMT. Framingham risk factors accounted for 28.6% and 27.5% of the variability in the CCA and ICA IMT, respectively. Age and gender contributed 23.5% to the variability of the CCA IMT and 22.5% to that of the ICA IMT, with the next most important factor being systolic blood pressure (1.9%) for the CCA IMT and smoking (1.6%) for the ICA IMT. The CCA IMT and ICA IMT were statistically significant predictors of prevalent CVD, with the ICA IMT having a larger area under the ROC curve (0.756 versus 0.695).
Associations of risk factors with CCA and ICA IMT are slightly different, and both are independently associated with prevalent CVD. Their value for predicting incident cardiovascular events needs to be compared in outcome studies.
PMCID: PMC3186063  PMID: 21098848
atherosclerosis; carotid artery; disease prevalence; intima-media thickness; risk factors
11.  Pre-Clinical Atherosclerosis due to HIV Infection: Carotid Intima-Medial Thickness Measurements from the FRAM Study 
AIDS (London, England)  2009;23(14):1841-1849.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is an increasing cause of morbidity and mortality in HIV-infected patients. However, it is controversial whether HIV infection contributes to accelerated atherosclerosis independent of traditional CVD risk factors.
Cross-sectional study of HIV-infected and control subjects without pre-existing CVD from the study of Fat Redistribution and Metabolic Change in HIV Infection (FRAM) and the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Pre-clinical atherosclerosis was assessed by carotid intima-medial thickness (IMT) measurements in the internal/bulb and common regions in HIV-infected and control subjects after adjusting for traditional CVD risk factors.
For internal carotid, mean IMT was 1.17±0.50mm for HIV-infected participants and 1.06±0.58mm for controls (p<0.0001). After multivariable adjustment for demographic characteristics, the mean difference of HIV-infected vs. controls was +0.188mm (95%CI 0.113-0.263, p<0.0001). Further adjustment for traditional CVD risk factors modestly attenuated the HIV association (+0.148mm, 95%CI 0.072-0.224, p=0.0001). For the common carotid, HIV infection was independently associated with greater IMT (+0.033mm, 95%CI 0.010, 0.056, p=0.005). The association of HIV infection with IMT was similar to that of smoking which was also associated with greater IMT (internal +0.173mm, common +0.020mm).
Even after adjustment for traditional CVD risk factors, HIV infection was accompanied by more extensive atherosclerosis measured by IMT. The stronger association of HIV infection with IMT in the internal/bulb region compared to the common carotid may explain previous discrepancies in the literature. The association of HIV infection with IMT was similar to that of traditional CVD risk factors, such as smoking.
PMCID: PMC3156613  PMID: 19455012
HIV; carotid IMT; smoking; cholesterol; diabetes; atherosclerosis
12.  Clinical Implications of Discordance Between LDL Cholesterol and LDL Particle Number 
Journal of clinical lipidology  2011;5(2):105-113.
The amount of cholesterol per LDL particle is variable and related in part to particle size, with smaller particles carrying less cholesterol. This variability causes concentrations of LDL cholesterol (LDL-C) and LDL particles (LDL-P) to be discordant in many individuals.
LDL-P measured by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, calculated LDL-C, and carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) were assessed at baseline in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), a community-based cohort of 6814 persons free of clinical CVD at entry and followed for CVD events (n=319 during 5.5-year follow-up). Discordance, defined as values of LDL-P and LDL-C differing by ≥ 12 percentile units to give equal-sized concordant and discordant subgroups, was related to CVD events and to carotid IMT in models predicting outcomes for a 1 SD difference in LDL-C or LDL-P, adjusted for age, sex and race.
LDL-C and LDL-P were associated with incident CVD overall: hazard ratios (HR [95% CI]) 1.20 [1.08, 1.34] and 1.32 [1.19, 1.47], respectively, but for those with discordant levels, only LDL-P was associated with incident CVD (HR: 1.45 [1.19, 1.78]) (LDL-C HR: 1.07 [0.88, 1.30])). IMT also tracked with LDL-P rather than LDL-C, i.e., adjusted mean IMT of 958, 932, and 917 μm in the LDL-P > LDL-C discordant, concordant, and LDL-P < LDL-C discordant subgroups, respectively, with the difference persisting after adjustment for LDL-C (p=0.002) but not LDL-P (p=0.60).
For individuals with discordant LDL-C and LDL-P levels, the LDL-attributable atherosclerotic risk is better indicated by LDL-P.
PMCID: PMC3070150  PMID: 21392724
LDL particle number; LDL cholesterol; cardiovascular disease risk; NMR; lipoproteins
13.  Common carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT) progression as a predictor of stroke in MESA (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis) 
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.
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.
Common carotid artery IMT progression is associated with incident stroke in this cohort free of prevalent cardiovascular disease and atrial fibrillation at baseline.
PMCID: PMC3202068  PMID: 21885840
Ultrasonography; Risk Factors; Carotid Arteries; Carotid Intima Media Thickness; stroke
14.  Pulse Pressure and Subclinical Cardiovascular Disease in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
American Journal of Hypertension  2013;26(5):636-642.
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.
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).
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3657481  PMID: 23388832
pulse pressare; subclinical cardiovascular disease; carotid intima–media thickness; left ventricular mass index; aging; hypertension; arterial stiffness; blood pressure.
15.  Sex Differential Genetic Effect of Chromosome 9p21 on Subclinical Atherosclerosis 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(11):e15124.
Chromosome 9p21 has recently been shown to be a risk region for a broad range of vascular diseases. Since carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) and plaque are independent predictors for vascular diseases, the association between 9p21 and these two phenotypes was investigated.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Carotid segment-specific IMT and plaques were obtained in 1083 stroke- and myocardial infarction-free volunteers. We tested the genotypes and haplotypes of key single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on chromosome 9p21 for the associations with carotid IMT and plaque. Multivariate permutation analyses demonstrated that carriers of the T allele of SNP rs1333040 were significantly associated with thicker common carotid artery (CCA) IMT (p = 0.021) and internal carotid artery (ICA) IMT (p = 0.033). The risk G allele of SNP rs2383207 was associated with ICA IMT (p = 0.007). Carriers of the C allele of SNP rs1333049 were found to be significantly associated with thicker ICA IMT (p = 0.010) and the greater risk for the presence of carotid plaque (OR = 1.57 for heterozygous carriers; OR = 1.75 for homozygous carriers). Haplotype analysis showed a global p value of 0.031 for ICA IMT and 0.115 for the presence of carotid plaque. Comparing with the other haplotypes, the risk TGC haplotype yielded an adjusted p value of 0.011 and 0.017 for thicker ICA IMT and the presence of carotid plaque respectively. Further analyzing the data separated by sex, the results were significant only in men but not in women.
Chromosome 9p21 had a significant association with carotid atherosclerosis, especially ICA IMT. Furthermore, such genetic effect was in a gender-specific manner in the Han Chinese population.
PMCID: PMC2994883  PMID: 21152093
16.  Alcohol consumption and carotid artery structure in Korean adults aged 50 years and older 
BMC Public Health  2009;9:358.
Epidemiologic studies of the association between alcohol consumption and carotid artery structure have reported conflicting results. We investigated the association between alcohol consumption and carotid atherosclerosis by evaluating the effects of alcohol intake on carotid artery enlargement.
The study population consisted of 4302 community-dwelling Koreans (1577 men and 2725 women) aged 50 years and over. All the subjects had participated in the baseline survey of the Dong-gu Study conducted between 2007 and 2008. Daily alcohol consumption was determined by the number and frequency of alcoholic beverages consumed. We measured common carotid artery intima-media thickness (CCA-IMT), common carotid and bulb IMT (CB-IMT), carotid plaques, and the diameter of the common carotid artery (CCA-diameter) using high-resolution B-mode ultrasonography. We used analysis of covariance and multiple logistic regressions to determine the relationship between alcohol consumption and carotid artery parameters.
CCA-IMT and CB-IMT were negatively correlated with alcohol consumption after controlling for cardiovascular risk factors in men (p for linear trend = 0.009 and = 0.038, respectively). The multivariate-adjusted odds ratio (OR) for carotid plaques was significantly higher in men who consumed >40.0 g/d (OR = 1.81, 95% CI = 1.13-2.91), although a significant positive correlation was observed between alcohol consumption and carotid plaques (p for linear trend = 0.027). Neither carotid IMT nor carotid plaques were correlated with alcohol intake in women. Alcohol intake was positively correlated with CCA-diameter adjusted for carotid IMT and plaques in the multivariate-adjusted model in both sexes (p for linear trend <0.001 for men and 0.020 for women).
The results of our study indicate that alcohol consumption is inversely related to carotid IMT and positively related to carotid plaques in men, but not women. However, alcohol intake is positively associated with CCA-diameter in both men and women. Additional large population-based prospective studies are needed to confirm the effects of alcohol consumption on carotid artery structure.
PMCID: PMC2761892  PMID: 19775442
17.  Associations of SNPs in ADIPOQ and subclinical cardiovascular disease in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) 
Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.)  2010;19(4):840-847.
Circulating adiponectin has been associated with both clinical and subclinical cardiovascular disease (CVD). Variants of the adiponectin gene (ADIPOQ) are associated with clinical CVD, but little is known about associations with subclinical CVD. We studied the association of 11 ADIPOQ SNPs with common and internal carotid intima media thickness (cIMT), presence of coronary artery calcification (CAC), and CAC scores (in those with CAC) in 2847 participants in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Participants were Caucasian (n=712), African-American (n=712), Chinese (n=718), and Hispanic (n=705). All models were adjusted for age, sex, and field site, and stratified by race/ethnic group. African-Americans with genotypes AG/GG of rs2241767 had 36% greater (95% CI (16%, 59%), p=0.0001) CAC prevalence; they also had a larger common cIMT (p=0.0043). Also in African-Americans, genotypes AG/AA of rs1063537 were associated with a 35% (95% CI (14%, 59%), p=0.0005) greater CAC prevalence. Hispanics with the AA genotype of rs11711353 had a 37% (95% CI (14%, 66%), p=0.0011), greater CAC prevalence compared to those with the GG genotype. Additional adjustment for ancestry in African-American and Hispanic participants did not change the results. No single SNP was associated with subclinical CVD phenotypes in Chinese or Caucasian participants. There appears to be an association between ADIPOQ SNPs and subclinical CVD in African-American and Hispanics. Replication as well as assessment of other ADIPOQ SNPs appears warranted.
PMCID: PMC3510267  PMID: 20930713
18.  Carotid artery plaque and progression of coronary artery calcium: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
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.
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.
In individuals free of cardiovascular disease, subjective and quantitative measures of carotid artery plaques by ultrasound imaging are associated with CAC incidence and progression.
PMCID: PMC4084492  PMID: 23522805
19.  Longitudinal Predictors of Progression of Carotid Atherosclerosis in Rheumatoid Arthritis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2011;63(11):3216-3225.
To explore predictors of change in measures of carotid atherosclerosis among rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients without known cardiovascular disease (CVD) at baseline
RA patients underwent carotid ultrasonography at two timepoints, separated by an average of 3.2 ± 0.3 years. The associations of baseline and average patient characteristics with the average yearly change in mean maximal intima-medial thickness (IMT) of the common (CCA) and internal carotid arteries (ICA), and with incident or progressive plaque in the ICA/carotid bulb, were explored.
Among the 158 RA patients, maxCCA-IMT increased in 82% (median=16 μm/year; p<0.001) and maxICA-IMT increased in 70% (median=25 μm/year; p<0.001). Incident plaque was observed in 14% without baseline plaque [incidence rate=4.2/100 person-years (95% CI 1.61–6.82)]. Plaque progression was observed in 5% with baseline plaque. Among RA predictors, the adjusted average yearly change in maxCCA-IMT was significantly greater in patients with earlier RA vs. longer disease. Those prescribed TNF inhibitors at baseline had a 37% lower adjusted rate of maxCCA-IMT progression vs. non-users (14 vs. 22 μm/year; p=0.026). For maxICA-IMT, cumulative prednisone exposure was associated with progression [1.2 μm/year per gram (95% CI 0.1–2.4)] after adjustment, and was lower in patients prescribed statins concomitant with prednisone. Higher swollen joint count and higher average CRP were both associated with incident or progressive plaque, primarily in patients with elevated baseline CVD risk based on the Framingham score.
These prospective data provide evidence for inflammation as a contributor to subclinical atherosclerosis progression in RA, potentially modified favorably by TNF inhibitors and detrimentally by glucocorticoids.
PMCID: PMC3205252  PMID: 21965129
Atherosclerosis; Inflammation; prediction; carotid ultrasound
20.  Changes in Clinical and Microbiological Periodontal Profiles Relate to Progression of Carotid Intima‐Media Thickness: The Oral Infections and Vascular Disease Epidemiology Study 
No prospective studies exist on the relationship between change in periodontal clinical and microbiological status and progression of carotid atherosclerosis.
Methods and Results
The Oral Infections and Vascular Disease Epidemiology Study examined 420 participants at baseline (68±8 years old) and follow‐up. Over a 3‐year median follow‐up time, clinical probing depth (PD) measurements were made at 75 766 periodontal sites, and 5008 subgingival samples were collected from dentate participants (average of 7 samples/subject per visit over 2 visits) and quantitatively assessed for 11 known periodontal bacterial species by DNA‐DNA checkerboard hybridization. Common carotid artery intima‐medial thickness (CCA‐IMT) was measured using high‐resolution ultrasound. In 2 separate analyses, change in periodontal status (follow‐up to baseline), defined as (1) longitudinal change in the extent of sites with a ≥3‐mm probing depth (Δ%PD≥3) and (2) longitudinal change in the relative predominance of bacteria causative of periodontal disease over other bacteria in the subgingival plaque (Δetiologic dominance), was regressed on longitudinal CCA‐IMT progression adjusting for age, sex, race/ethnicity, diabetes, smoking status, education, body mass index, systolic blood pressure, and low‐density lipoprotein cholesterol and high‐density lipoprotein cholesterol. Mean (SE) CCA‐IMT increased during follow‐up by 0.139±0.008 mm. Longitudinal IMT progression attenuated with improvement in clinical or microbial periodontal status. Mean CCA‐IMT progression varied inversely across quartiles of longitudinal improvement in clinical periodontal status (Δ%PD≥3) by 0.18 (0.02), 0.16 (0.01), 0.14 (0.01), and 0.07 (0.01) mm (P for trend<0.0001). Likewise, mean CCA‐IMT increased by 0.20 (0.02), 0.18 (0.02), 0.15 (0.02), and 0.12 (0.02) mm (P<0.0001) across quartiles of longitudinal improvement in periodontal microbial status (Δetiologic dominance).
Longitudinal improvement in clinical and microbial periodontal status is related to a decreased rate of carotid artery IMT progression at 3‐year average follow‐up.
PMCID: PMC3886779  PMID: 24166489
atherosclerosis; infection; inflammation; periodontal; progression
21.  Occupational Mobility and Carotid Artery Intima-Media Thickness: Findings from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study 
Psychosomatic medicine  2011;73(9):795-802.
To examine whether 10-year change in occupational mobility is related to carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT) 5 years later.
Data were obtained from 2350 participants in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study. Occupational standing was measured at the Year 5 and 15 CARDIA follow-up exams when participants were 30.2+3.6 and 40.2+3.6 years of age, respectively. IMT (common (CCA), internal (ICA), and bulb) was measured at Year 20. Occupational mobility was defined as the change in occupational standing between Years 5 and 15 using two semi-continuous variables. Analyses controlled for demographics, CARDIA center, employment status, parents’ medical history, own medical history, Year 5 Framingham risk score, physiological risk factors and health behaviors averaged across the follow-up, and sonography reader.
Occupational mobility was unrelated to IMT save for an unexpected association of downward mobility with less CCA-IMT (β= −.04, p=.04). However, associations differed depending on initial standing (Year 5) and sex. For those with lower initial standings upward mobility was associated with less CCA-IMT (β= −.07, p=.003) and downward mobility with greater CCA-IMT and bulb-ICA-IMT (β= .14, p=.01 and β= .14, p=.03, respectively); for those with higher standings, upward mobility was associated with greater CCA-IMT (β= .15, p=.008) but downward mobility was unrelated to either IMT measure (ps>.20). Sex-specific analyses revealed associations of upward mobility with less CCA-IMT and bulb-ICA-IMT among men only (ps<.02).
Occupational mobility may have implications for future cardiovascular health. Effects may differ depending on initial occupational standing and sex.
PMCID: PMC3216404  PMID: 22021461
CARDIA; IMT; occupational mobility; occupational social class; socioeconomic status
22.  Associations of cardiovascular risk factors, carotid intima-media thickness and left ventricular mass with inter-adventitial diameters of the common carotid artery: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) 
Atherosclerosis  2011;218(2):344-349.
Common carotid artery inter-adventitial diameter (IAD) and intima-media thickness (IMT) are measurable by ultrasound. IAD may be associated with left ventricular mass (LV mass) while IMT is a marker of subclinical atherosclerosis. It is not clear if IAD is associated with LV mass after accounting for IMT and traditional cardiovascular risk factors.
IAD and IMT were measured on participants of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) IMT progression study. A total of 5641 of the originally enrolled 6814 MESA participants were studied. LV mass was measured by magnetic resonance imaging. Multivariable linear regression was used with IAD as the outcome and adjustment for risk factors, as well as IMT and LV mass.
Traditional cardiovascular risk factors, height, weight and ethnicity were significantly associated with IAD. After adjustment for risk factors, a one mm difference in IMT was associated with a 1.802 mm (95% CI: 1.553, 2.051) higher mean IAD. A one gm difference in LV mass was associated with a 0.006 mm (95% CI: 0.005, 0.007) higher mean IAD. LV mass was independently associated with IAD after adjusting for cardiovascular risk factors and IMT. These associations were slightly different for men and women.
Inter-adventitial diameters are associated with left ventricular mass after adjusting for cardiovascular risk factors and IMT. IAD might serve as a surrogate for left ventricular mass and have predictive value for cardiovascular outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3186064  PMID: 21726862
carotid arteries; ultrasonics; hypertrophy; magnetic resonance imaging; remodeling; risk factors; left ventricle
23.  Association between job strain and prevalence of hypertension: a cross sectional analysis in a Japanese working population with a wide range of occupations: the Jichi Medical School cohort study 
OBJECTIVES—To explore the association between the prevalence of hypertension in a Japanese working population and job strain (a combination of low control over work and high psychological demands), and to estimate this association in different sociodemographic strata.
METHODS—From a multicentre community based cohort study of Japanese people, sex specific cross sectional analyses were performed on 3187 men and 3400 women under 65 years of age, all of whom were actively engaged in various occupations throughout Japan. The baseline period was 1992-4. The association between job characteristics—measured with a Japanese version of the Karasek demand-control questionnaire—and the prevalence of hypertension defined by blood pressure and from clinical diagnoses were examined. Adjustments were made for possible confounders. The analyses were repeated for stratified categories of occupational class, educational attainment, and age group.
RESULTS—In men, the level of job strain (the ratio of psychological job demands to job control) correlated with the prevalence of hypertension. In a multiple logistic regression model, job strain was significantly related to hypertension (odds ratio 1.18; 95% confidence interval 1.05 to 1.32), after adjustment for age, employment (white collar v blue collar), marital status, family history of hypertension, cigarette smoking, alcohol intake, physical activity, and body mass index. The stratified analyses showed significant excess risks in the subordinate groups compared with managers, blue collar workers, less educated workers, and the older age groups. This association was not significant in women. Multiple linear regression analyses, with systolic and diastolic blood pressures as dependent variables, did not show any significant association.
CONCLUSIONS—The findings provided limited proof that job strain is related to hypertension in Japanese working men. Older men in a lower social class may be more vulnerable to the hypertensive effects of job strain.

Keywords: hypertension; stress; psychological; work
PMCID: PMC1740148  PMID: 11351051
24.  Segment-specific association between plasma homocysteine and carotid artery intima-media thickness in the Framingham Heart Study 
Higher plasma total homocysteine (tHcy) is an established risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The relation between tHcy and carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT) at the internal carotid artery (ICA)/bulb-IMT and common carotid artery (CCA)-IMT has not been systematically examined. Since the ICA/bulb segment is more prone to plaque formation than the CCA segment, differential associations with tHcy at these sites might suggest mechanisms of tHcy action.
We examined the cross-sectional segment-specific relations of tHcy to ICA/bulb-IMT and CCA-IMT in 2,499 participants from the Framingham Offspring Study, free of cardiovascular disease.
In multivariable linear regression analysis, ICA/bulb-IMT was significantly higher in the fourth tHcy quartile category compared to the other quartile categories, in both the age- and sex-adjusted and in the multivariable-adjusted model (P for trend <0.0001 and <0.01, respectively). We observed a significant age by tHcy interaction for ICA/bulb-IMT (P=0.03) and therefore stratified the analyses by median age (58 years). There was a significant positive trend between tHcy and ICA/bulb-IMT in individuals 58 years of age or older (P-trend <0.01), but not in the younger individuals (P-trend=0.24). For CCA-IMT, no significant trends were observed in any of the analyses.
The segment-specific association between elevated tHcy levels and ICA/bulb-IMT suggests an association between tHcy and plaque formation.
PMCID: PMC3011043  PMID: 20580253
carotid artery; intima-media thickness; homocysteine; atherosclerosis; Framingham Offspring Study
25.  Joint effects of social class and community occupational structure on coronary mortality among black men and white men, upstate New York, 1988–92 
Study objective: Occupational structure represents the unequal geographical distribution of more desirable jobs among communities (for example, white collar jobs). This study examines joint effects of social class, race, and county occupational structure on coronary mortality rates for men, ages 35–64 years, 1988–92, in upstate New York.
Design: Upstate New York's 57 counties were classified into three occupational structure categories; counties with the lowest percentages of the labour force in managerial, professional, and technical occupations were classified in category I, counties with the highest percentages were in category III. Age adjusted coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality rates, 35–64 years, (from vital statistics and census data) were calculated for each occupational structure category.
Main results: An inverse association between CHD mortality and occupational structure was observed among blue collar and white collar workers, among black men and white men, with the lowest CHD mortality observed among white collar, white men in category III (135/100 000). About two times higher mortality was observed among blue collar than white collar workers. Among blue collar workers, mortality was 1.3–1.8 times higher among black compared with white workers, and the highest rates were observed among black, blue collar workers (689/100 000). Also, high residential race segregation was shown in all areas.
Conclusions: Results suggest the importance of community conditions in coronary health of local populations; however, differential impact on subpopulations was shown. Blue collar and black workers may especially lack economic and other resources to use available community services and/or may experience worse working and living conditions compared with white collar and white workers in the same communities.
PMCID: PMC1732437  PMID: 12700223

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