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.
atherosclerosis; carotid artery; disease prevalence; intima-media thickness; risk factors
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.
carotid artery; intima-media thickness; homocysteine; atherosclerosis; Framingham Offspring Study
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.
Ultrasonography; Risk Factors; Carotid Arteries; Carotid Intima Media Thickness; stroke
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.
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.
Ultrasonography; Risk Factors; Carotid Arteries; Carotid Intima Media Thickness
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.
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.
Background and Purpose
Carotid atherosclerosis has been associated with increased risk of stroke, and poorer cognitive performance in older adults. The relation of carotid atherosclerosis to cognitive impairment and MRI indices of ischemia and aging in midlife is less clear.
We studied 1,975 Framingham Offspring Study participants free of stroke and dementia with available carotid ultrasound, brain MRI and neuropsychological testing. We related common and internal carotid artery intima-media thickness (ICA-IMT and CCA-IMT respectively) and internal carotid stenosis (CAS) to large white matter hyperintensity (>1-SD above age-specific mean; LWMH), total brain volume (TCBV), hippocampal volume, silent cerebral infarcts (SCI) and neuropsychological measures of verbal memory, executive function and non-verbal memory measures.
We observed that ICA-IMT, but not CCA-IMT, was associated with higher prevalence of SCI (OR 1.21, 95% CI 1.03–1.43, p<0.05), LWMH (OR 1.19, 95% CI 1.03–1.38, p<0.05), lower TCBV (−0.05 per SD, p<0.05) and poorer performance in verbal memory (−0.06 per SD; p<0.05) and non-verbal memory measures (−0.08 per SD; p<0.01), but not with hippocampal volume. CAS ≥25% was associated with a higher prevalence of LWMH (adjusted OR 1.77, 95% CI 1.25–2.53) and lower TCBV (−0.11 per SD, p=0.042) but not with SCI or hippocampal volume. CAS ≥50% was associated with higher prevalence of SCI (OR 2.53, 95% CI 1.17 – 5.44), LWMH (OR 2.35, 95% CI 1.08–5.13) and poorer performance on executive function (−0.39 per SD; p<0.05) but not with TCBV or hippocampal volume.
Carotid atherosclerosis markers were associated with MRI indices of brain ischemia and aging and with cognitive impairment in a community-based sample of middle-aged adults. Our data suggest that ICA-IMT may be a better marker for cognitive impairment than CCA-IMT.
Carotid atherosclerosis; brain MRI; cognitive performance
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.
Atherosclerosis; Inflammation; prediction; carotid ultrasound
Background and Purpose
Carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) is a surrogate marker of subclinical atherosclerosis and a strong predictor of stroke and myocardial infarction. The object of this study was to determine the association between carotid IMT and 702 single nucleotide polymorphisms in 145 genes.
B-mode carotid ultrasound was performed among 408 Hispanics from the Northern Manhattan Study. The common carotid artery IMT and bifurcation IMT were phenotypes of interest. Genetic effects were evaluated by the multivariate regression model adjusting for traditional vascular risk factors. For each individual, we calculated a gene risk score (GRS) defined as the total number of the significant single nucleotide polymorphisms in different genes. Subjects were then divided into 3 GRS categories using the 2 cutoff points: mean GRS ±1 SD.
We identified 6 significant single nucleotide polymorphisms in 6 genes for common carotid artery IMT and 7 single nucleotide polymorphisms in 7 genes for bifurcation IMT using the probability value of 0.005 as the significant level. There were no common significant genes for both phenotypes. The most significant genes were the tissue plasminogen activator (P=0.0005 for common carotid artery IMT) and matrix metallopeptidase-12 genes (P=0.0004 for bifurcation IMT). Haplotype analysis did not yield a more significant result. Subjects with GRS ≥9 had significantly increased IMT than those with GRS ≤5 (P<0.001). GRS was an independent predictor of both common carotid artery IMT (P=2.3×10−9) and bifurcation MT (P=7.2×10−8).
Multiple genes contributed to the variation in carotid IMT. IMT in different carotid segments may be regulated by different sets of susceptibility genes.
atherosclerosis; carotid intima-media thickness; genetics; polymorphism
Few population studies have evaluated the associations of both coronary artery calcium (CAC) and carotid ultrasound with cardiovascular events, especially in adults > 70 years of age. At the Pittsburgh Field Center of the Cardiovascular Health Study, 559 men and women, mean age 80.2 (SD 4.1) years had CAC score assessed by electron beam computerized tomography scan and common and internal carotid intimal-medial wall thickness (CCA-IMT and ICA-IMT) by carotid ultrasound between 1998−2000 and were followed for total and incident cardiovascular disease events through June 2003. Crude rates and hazard ratios for total and incident events were examined with and without adjustment for cardiovascular risk factors. After 5 years, there were 127 cardiovascular disease events, 48 myocardial infarctions or cardiovascular disease deaths and 28 strokes or stroke deaths. Total and incident cardiovascular disease event rates were higher in each quartile of CAC and CCA-IMT, but not ICA-IMT. For total cardiovascular disease, the adjusted hazard ratio for the 4th vs. 1st quartile of CAC was 2.1 (95% CI = 1.2−3.9) and for CCA-IMT was 2.3 (95% CI = 1.3−4.1). The CCA-IMT was more strongly related to stroke risk than was CAC, though CAC was also an important predictor of stroke. No significant sex differences were found, though relative risks appeared to be stronger in women, especially for stroke. In conclusion, in these adults > 70 years of age, CAC and CCA-IMT had similar hazard ratios for total cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease. The CCA-IMT was more strongly related to stroke than was CAC, but CAC was also a predictor of stroke.
calcium; cardiovascular diseases; coronary disease; prognosis
Background and Purpose
Higher plasma concentrations of the endogenous nitric oxides synthase (NOS) inhibitor asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA) are associated with increased risk of cardio- and cerebrovascular events and death, presumably by promoting endothelial dysfunction and subclinical atherosclerosis. We hypothesized that plasma ADMA concentrations are positively related to common carotid artery intimal media thickness (CCA-IMT) and to internal carotid (ICA)/bulb-IMT.
We investigated the cross-sectional relations of plasma ADMA with CCA-IMT and ICA/bulb-IMT in 2958 Framingham Heart Study participants (mean age 58 years, 55% women).
In unadjusted analyses, ADMA was positively related to both CCA-IMT (β per SD increment 0.012, p<0.001) and ICA/bulb IMT (β per SD increment 0.059, p<0.001). In multivariable analyses (adjusting for age, sex, systolic blood pressure, antihypertensive treatment, smoking status, diabetes, body mass index (BMI), Total to HDL cholesterol ratio, log C-reactive protein, and serum creatinine), plasma ADMA was not associated with CCA-IMT (p=0.991), but remained significantly and positively related to ICA/bulb IMT (β per SD increment 0.0246, p=0.002).
In our large community-based sample, we observed that higher plasma ADMA concentrations were associated with greater ICA/bulb-IMT but not with CCA-IMT. These data are consistent with the notion that ADMA promotes subclinical atherosclerosis in a site-specific manner, with a greater proatherogenic influence at known vulnerable sites in the arterial tree.
Carotid Intimal Medial Thickness; Endothelium; Epidemiology; Risk Factors; Nitric Oxide
Although intima-media thickness (IMT) was increased in several inflammatory diseases, studies investigating whether the inflammatory processes lead to macrovascular alteration with increased IMT in complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) lack.
Using ultrasound (high-resolution B-mode), we compared bilaterally the IMT of the common carotid artery (CCA-IMT), the radial artery (RA-IMT), the brachial artery (BRA-IMT) and the quotient QRA/CCA, in CRPS type I (n=17), peripheral nerve injury (PNI, n=17) and pain-free controls (PFC, n=22, matched to CRPS by gender, age and traditional cardiovascular risk factors). Statistics: Spearman’s correlation, paired t-test, ANOVA (p<0.05).
Compared to PFC, RA-IMT were significantly increased in both patient groups bilaterally (mean±standard deviation, CRPS affected side vs. PFC dominant side: 0.32±0.08 mm vs. 0.19±0.08 mm, p<0.001; PNI affected side vs. PFC dominant side: 0.27±0.09 mm vs. 0.19±0.08 mm, p< 0.05; CRPS non-affected side vs. PFC non-dominant side: 0.30±0.10 mm vs. 0.19±0.09 mm, p<0.001; PNI non-affected side vs. PFC non-dominant side: 0.25±0.10 mm vs. 0.19±0.09 mm, p<0.05) and QRA/CCA (CRPS affected-side vs. PFC dominant side: 0.49±0.12 vs. 0.30±0.11, p<0.001; PNI affected side vs. PFC dominant side: 0.41±0.10 vs. 0.30±0.11, p<0.05; CRPS non-affected side vs. PFC non-dominant side: 0.43±0.19 vs. 0.30±0.13, p<0.001; PNI non-affected side vs. PFC non-dominant side: 0.39±0.14 vs. 0.30±0.13, p<0.05), and BRA-IMT - only on the affected side in CRPS (CRPS: 0.42±0.06 mm vs. PFC: 0.35±0.08 mm; p<0.05). In CRPS, QRA/CCA was significantly higher on the affected side compared to PNI (p<0.05). However, only CRPS displayed within-group side-to-side differences with a significantly increased RA-IMT and QRA/CCA on the affected side (p<0.05). The CCA-IMT was comparable between all groups and sides.
The increased IMT of peripheral arteries in CRPS suggests ongoing inflammatory process. Until now, only endothelial dysfunction has been reported. The presented morphological macrovascular alterations might explain the treatment resistance of some CRPS patients.
Complex regional pain syndrome; Macrovascular changes; Intima-media thickness; Inflammatory alterations
Increased carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT) is a non-invasive marker of systemic arterial disease. Increased IMT has been associated with atherosclerosis, abnormal arterial mechanics, myocardial infarction, and stroke. Given evidence of a relationship between cardiovascular health and attention-executive-psychomotor functioning, the purpose of this study was to examine IMT in relation to neuropsychological test performance in patients with a variety of cardiovascular diagnoses.
One hundred and nine participants, ages 55 to 85, underwent neuropsychological assessment and B-mode ultrasound of the left common carotid artery. IMT was calculated using an automated algorithm based on a validated edge-detection technique. The relationship between IMT and measures of language, memory, visual-spatial abilities and attention-executive-psychomotor functioning was modeled using hierarchical linear regression analyses adjusted for age, education, sex, cardiovascular risk, current systolic blood pressure, and history of coronary artery disease (CAD).
Increased IMT was associated with significantly lower performance in the attention-executive-psychomotor domain (IMT beta = −0.26, p < .01), independent of age, education, sex, cardiovascular risk, current systolic blood pressure, and CAD (F(10,100) = 3.61, p < .001). IMT was not significantly related to language, memory, or visual-spatial abilities.
Our findings suggest that, in patients with cardiovascular disease, IMT may be associated with the integrity of frontal subcortical networks responsible for attention-executive-psychomotor performance. Future studies are needed to clarify the mechanisms by which IMT affects cognition and examine potential interactions between increased IMT and other measures of cardiovascular health such as blood pressure variability, cardiac systolic performance, and systemic perfusion.
Cognition; Cardiovascular Diseases; Carotid Arteries; Atherosclerosis; IMT; B-mode Ultrasound
Adults with Obesity (O) or Type 2 Diabetes (T2DM) are at higher risk for stroke and myocardial infarction. Increased carotid intima-media thickness (cIMT) and stiffness are associated with these adverse outcomes. We compared carotid arteries in youth who were lean (L), O or T2DM.
Methods and Results
Carotid ultrasound for cIMT, Young’s Elastic Modulus (YEM) and Beta Stiffness Index (β), anthropometric, laboratory, and BP were measured in 182 L, 136 O, and 128 T2DM youth; 10-24 years. Mean differences were evaluated by ANOVA. Independent determinates of cIMT, YEM and β were determined with General Linear Models. CV risk factors worsened from L to O to T2DM. T2DM had greater cIMT than lean and O for the common carotid and bulb. For the internal, both O and T2DM were thicker than L. The carotid arteries were stiffer O & T2DM as compared to L. Determinates of cIMT were Group, Group*age interaction, gender, SBP for common (r2 =0.17); age, race, and SBP for bulb (r2 =0.16); age, race, gender, SBP and total cholesterol for the internal (r2 =0.21). Age, SBP and DBP were determinates of all measures of carotid stiffness with gender adding to YEM (r2=0.23); BMI z score, Group and Group*age interaction contributing to β (r2 =0.31, all p<0.0001).
Youth with Obesity and T2DM diabetes have abnormalities in carotid thickness and stiffness only partially explained by traditional CV risk factors. These vascular changes should alert health care practitioners to address CV risk factors early to prevent an increase in the incidence of stroke and myocardial infarction.
Carotid arteries; Elasticity; Obesity; Pediatrics; Risk factors
Impact of multiple cardiovascular (CV) risk factors on the intima-media thickness (IMT) of femoral and carotid artery segments measured simultaneously has not been studied in asymptomatic adults. This study examined the impact of multiple CV risk factors on the IMT in asymptomatic adults.
Femoral and carotid IMT were measured by B-mode ultrasonography in 1080 asymptomatic subjects (aged 24–43 years) of the Bogalusa Heart Study.
In multivariate analyses, systolic blood pressure, age, male, total cholesterol/HDL cholesterol ratio and smoking were common independent predictor variables for the femoral and carotid IMT. Systolic blood pressure followed by age were the major determinant risk factors for the IMT of all arterial segments except carotid bulb for which age was the major predictor. The independent variables listed explained 11% of the variability in femoral IMT, 28% in common carotid, 18% in carotid bulb, 10% in internal carotid and 27% in composite carotid segments. Mean IMT increased with increasing number of risk factors in all arterial segments; p for trend = 0.003 for femoral and 0.001 for all carotid segments.
The observed deleterious trend of increasing IMT of the femoral and different segments of the carotid artery with increasing number of CV risk factors provide evidence of silent systemic atherosclerosis in asymptomatic young adults. These findings underscore the importance of multiple for risk factors profiling in early life. Studies of the femoral and carotid IMT may be helpful along with measurements of risk factors for evaluation of asymptomatic atherosclerotic disease.
femoral and carotid artery; intima-media thickness; risk factors; ultrasonography; arterial disease
To estimate the heritability of carotid intima-media thickness (IMT), a surrogate marker for atherosclerosis, independent of traditional coronary risk factors.
Methods and Results
We performed a classical twin study of carotid IMT using 98 middle-aged male twin pairs, 58 monozygotic (MZ) and 40 dizygotic (DZ) pairs, from the Vietnam Era Twin Registry. All twins were free of overt cardiovascular disease. Carotid IMT was measured by ultrasound. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were used to determine the association between traditional cardiovascular risk factors and carotid IMT. Intraclass correlation coefficients and genetic modeling techniques were used to determine the relative contributions of genes and environment to the variation in carotid IMT. In our sample, the mean of the maximum carotid IMT was 0.75 ± 0.11. Age, systolic blood pressure and HDL were significantly associated with carotid IMT. The intraclass correlation coefficient for carotid IMT was larger in MZ (0.66; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.62–0.69) than in DZ twins (0.37; 95% CI, 0.29–0.44), and the unadjusted heritability was 0.69 (95% CI, 0.54–0.79). After adjusting for traditional coronary risk factors, the heritability of carotid IMT was slightly reduced but still of considerable magnitude (0.59; 95% CI, 0.39–0.73).
Genetic factors have a substantial influence on the variation of carotid IMT. Most of this genetic effect occurs through pathways independent of traditional coronary risk factors.
heritability; carotid intima-media thickness; twin study; atherosclerosis
South Asian immigrants (SAIs) have a higher prevalence of cardiovascular (CV) morbidity and mortality compared with other populations. The major challenge associated with primary prevention of cardiovascular to coronary artery diseases (CAD) in SAIs involves early and accurate detection of CAD in asymptomatic individuals at high cardiovascular risk. Inflammatory processes are now recognized to play a central role in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis and are found to be associated with future CV risk in a variety of clinical settings. Imaging measures, such as common carotid artery intima-media thickness (CCA-IMT), are being applied as surrogate markers for end-points, such as myocardial infarction (MI) and death in clinical trials. Considering high CAD risk in SAIs and knowing that conventional risk factors may not fully explain the excess CAD risk in this group, studies on the role of CCA-IMT in CAD prediction have been discussed. Also, C-reactive protein (CRP) validity in risk prediction, the role of dysfunctional high density lipoprotein (HDL) as a CAD risk marker in SAIs have been presented.
Coronary artery disease; Cardiovascular disease; Dysfunctional HDL; South Asians; C-reactive protein.
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.
Background and Purpose
Atherosclerosis is a complex disorder with hereditary and environmental causes. Carotid artery intima-media wall thickness (IMT) is a useful measure of atherosclerosis. The objective of this study was to determine the association between carotid IMT and functional promoter variants of stromelysin-1 (MMP3: −1612 5A>6A), interleukin-6 (IL6: −174G>C), and hepatic lipase (HL: −480C>T) genes.
B-mode carotid ultrasound was performed among 87 subjects (mean age, 70 ± 12 years; 55% women; 60% Caribbean-Hispanic, 25% black, and 13% white) from the Northern Manhattan Prospective Cohort Study. Carotid IMT was calculated as a composite measure (mean of the maximum IMT in the bifurcation, the common carotid artery, and the internal carotid artery).
For all polymorphisms, genotype distribution was not significantly different from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium. The frequencies of the rare alleles were as follows: MMP3 −1612 5A>6A, 0.31 (95% CI, 0.25 to 0.39); IL6 −174 G>C, 0.20 (95% CI, 0.13 to 0.25); and HL −480 C>T, 0.45 (95% CI, 0.35 to 0.50). Carotid IMT in the sample was 0.78±0.18 mm. Subjects with the MMP3 genotype 6A6A had 8% greater mean carotid IMT than the other MMP3 genotypes combined (0.95±0.17 versus 0.87±0.15 mm; P=0.04). Subjects with the IL6 genotype GG had 11% greater IMT (0.85±0.17 versus 0.76±0.16 mm; P=0.03), and those with the HL genotype CC had 13% greater IMT (0.87±20 versus 0.76±0.18 mm; P=0.02) than the other genotypes combined. Adjustment for other risk factors did not change these associations.
Carotid IMT is higher among subjects homozygous for functional variants in genes related to matrix deposition (MMP3 −16126A), inflammation (IL6 −174G), and lipid metabolism (HL −480C). These associations were independent of race-ethnicity and some environmental exposures. Further studies are needed to confirm these genotype-phenotype associations.
genetics; interleukin-6; intima-media thickness; lipase; stromelysin 1; ultrasonography
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.
CARDIA; IMT; occupational mobility; occupational social class; socioeconomic status
Complement factor H (CFH) is a plasma protein that is essential in the regulation of the alternative complement pathway and has been implicated as taking part in complement inhibition in atherogenesis. We evaluated the association of the y402H polymorphism with incident coronary heart disease (CHD), incident ischemic stroke, and carotid artery wall thickness (intima-media thickness (IMT)) in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) cohort.
Incident ischemic stroke and CHD were identified through annual telephone calls and hospital and death certificate surveillance. Carotid IMT was measured by means of high-resolution B-mode ultrasound. Four hundred eighty-three validated ischemic stroke and 1,544 CHD events were identified. Because of allele frequency differences between whites and African Americans, analyses were performed separately according to the racial group.
The 402HH homozygous genotype was a significant predictor of incident ischemic stroke in whites (hazard rate ratio (HRR) 1.47, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.05–2.05). Significant interaction effects between genotype and hypertension were observed for CHD in whites and for cIMT in whites and African Americans. In further analyses of incident CHD, genotypes carrying the 402H allele were a significant predictor of incident CHD in whites who had hypertension (402yH: HRR 1.19, 95% CI 1.01–1.40; 402HH: HRR 1.28, 95% CI 1.04–1.57). The 402H allele was also associated with higher cIMT measures for whites in the overall cohort, and for whites with hypertension.
The CFH 402H allele was associated with an increased risk for incident CHD and ischemic stroke in whites, with the strength and significance of the association dependent upon hypertension status.
To compare common carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) between the two major Brazilian ethnic groups (those of African descent and those of European descent) among individuals with one or more risk factors for atherosclerotic disease.
Two hundred and six patients with one or more risk factors for atherosclerotic disease were evaluated in a cross-sectional study in which their clinical, ethnic and Demographic characteristics were collected. All patients underwent duplex ultrasound examination of their carotid vessels to obtain IMT measurements.
One hundred and fifty-three patients (74.3%) had a carotid IMT greater than 1.0 mm at one or more point of measurement in at least one common carotid artery. There was a significant correlation between older age and mean carotid wall thickness (R=0.479 / P<0.01). Multivariate analysis identified male sex, arterial hypertension and older age as variables associated with increased IMT (P<0.05 for all variables). When IMT was compared between the two ethnic groups in this study, no significant differences were noted. Euro-descendants and Afro-descendants had similar IMT values, even when the groups were stratified by degree of IMT (normal vs. increased) and presence of stroke and/or transient ischemic attack (yes vs. no).
The risk factors associated with increased common carotid artery IMT in Brazilian individuals are similar to those in previously described populations. No differences were observed between the two main Brazilian ethnic groups. Longitudinal studies are required for a better evaluation of the incidence, etiologic factors and evolution of carotid intimomedial thickening in this population.
Intima-media thickness; Carotid; Atherosclerosis; Ethnic groups; Ultrasound
Carotid intima–media thickness (CIMT) and plaque information can improve coronary heart disease (CHD) risk prediction when added to traditional risk factors (TRF). However, obtaining adequate images of all carotid artery segments (A-CIMT) may be difficult. Of A-CIMT, the common carotid artery intima–media thickness (CCA-IMT) is relatively more reliable and easier to measure. We evaluated whether CCA-IMT is comparable to A-CIMT when added to TRF and plaque information in improving CHD risk prediction in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study.
Methods and results
Ten-year CHD risk prediction models using TRF alone, TRF + A-CIMT + plaque, and TRF + CCA-IMT + plaque were developed for the overall cohort, men, and women. The area under the receiver operator characteristic curve (AUC), per cent individuals reclassified, net reclassification index (NRI), and model calibration by the Grønnesby–Borgan test were estimated. There were 1722 incident CHD events in 12 576 individuals over a mean follow-up of 15.2 years. The AUC for TRF only, TRF + A-CIMT + plaque, and TRF + CCA-IMT + plaque models were 0.741, 0.754, and 0.753, respectively. Although there was some discordance when the CCA-IMT + plaque- and A-CIMT + plaque-based risk estimation was compared, the NRI and clinical NRI (NRI in the intermediate-risk group) when comparing the CIMT models with TRF-only model, per cent reclassified, and test for model calibration were not significantly different.
Coronary heart disease risk prediction can be improved by adding A-CIMT + plaque or CCA-IMT + plaque information to TRF. Therefore, evaluating the carotid artery for plaque presence and measuring CCA-IMT, which is easier and more reliable than measuring A-CIMT, provide a good alternative to measuring A-CIMT for CHD risk prediction.
CIMT; Plaque; Risk prediction
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.
carotid arteries; ultrasonics; hypertrophy; magnetic resonance imaging; remodeling; risk factors; left ventricle
To determine whether cardiovascular risk factors are associated with aortic and carotid intimal-medial thickness (aIMT and cIMT) in adolescents and young adults.
Atherosclerotic lesions begin developing in youth, first in the distal abdominal aorta and later in the carotid arteries. Knowledge of how risk factors relate to aIMT and cIMT may help in the design of early interventions to prevent cardiovascular disease.
Participants were 635 members of the Muscatine Offspring cohort. The mean aIMT and cIMT were measured using an automated reading program.
The means (SDs) of aIMT and cIMT were 0.63 (0.14) mm and 0.49 (0.04) mm, respectively. In adolescents (ages 11 to 17), aIMT was associated with triglycerides, systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP), body mass index (BMI), and waist/hip ratio, after adjusting for age, gender, and height. In young adults (ages 18 to 34), aIMT was associated with those same five risk factors, plus HDL-cholesterol and pulse pressure. In adolescents, cIMT was associated with SBP, pulse pressure, heart rate, BMI, and waist/hip ratio. In young adults, cIMT was associated total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, triglycerides, SBP, .DBP, BMI, waist/hip ratio, and HbA1C. In both age groups, aIMT and cIMT were significantly correlated with the PDAY coronary artery risk score.
Both aIMT and cIMT are associated with cardiovascular risk factors. Using aIMT in adolescents gives information beyond that obtained from cIMT alone. Measurement of aIMT and cIMT may help identify those at risk for premature cardiovascular disease.
Atherosclerosis; Ultrasound; Preclinical disease; Abdominal aorta; IMT