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1.  Segment-Specific Associations of Carotid IMT with Cardiovascular Risk Factors: The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study 
Background and Purpose
We propose to study possible differences in the associations between risk factors for cardiovascular disease (myocardial infarction and stroke) and Carotid Intima-Media thickness (IMT) measurements made at three different levels of the carotid bifurcation. Methods: Cross-sectional study of a cohort of Whites and African Americans of both genders with mean age 45 years. Traditional cardiovascular risk factors were determined in cohort members. Carotid IMT was measured from high-resolution B-mode ultrasound images at three levels: the common carotid artery (CCA), the carotid artery bulb (Bulb) and the internal carotid artery (ICA). Associations with risk factors were evaluated by multivariate linear regression analyses.
Results
Of 3258 who underwent carotid IMT measurements, CCA, Bulb, and ICA IMT were measured at all three separate levels in 3023 (92.7%). A large proportion of the variability of CCA IMT was explained by cardiovascular risk factors (26.8%) but less so for the Bulb (11.2%) and ICA (8.0%). Carotid IMT was consistently associated with age, LDL-cholesterol, smoking and hypertension in all segments. Associations with fasting glucose and diastolic blood pressure were stronger for CCA than for the other segments. Hypertension, diabetes and current smoking had qualitatively stronger associations with Bulb IMT, and LDL cholesterol with ICA IMT. Conclusion: In our cohort of relatively young white and African-American men and women, a greater proportion of the variability in common carotid IMT can be explained by traditional cardiovascular risk factors than for the carotid artery bulb and internal carotid arteries.
doi:10.1161/STROKEAHA.109.566596
PMCID: PMC3163306  PMID: 19910544
Carotid Intimal Medial Thickness; Risk Factors; Carotid Ultrasound
2.  Segment-specific association between plasma homocysteine and carotid artery intima-media thickness in the Framingham Heart Study 
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
The segment-specific association between elevated tHcy levels and ICA/bulb-IMT suggests an association between tHcy and plaque formation.
doi:10.1016/j.jstrokecerebrovasdis.2009.10.012
PMCID: PMC3011043  PMID: 20580253
carotid artery; intima-media thickness; homocysteine; atherosclerosis; Framingham Offspring Study
3.  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.
OBJECTIVE
To examine whether 10-year change in occupational mobility is related to carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT) 5 years later.
METHODS
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.
RESULTS
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).
CONCLUSIONS
Occupational mobility may have implications for future cardiovascular health. Effects may differ depending on initial occupational standing and sex.
doi:10.1097/PSY.0b013e3182365539
PMCID: PMC3216404  PMID: 22021461
CARDIA; IMT; occupational mobility; occupational social class; socioeconomic status
4.  Variations in Common Carotid Artery Intima-Media Thickness (cIMT) during the Cardiac Cycle: Implications for Cardiovascular Risk Assessment 
Introduction
Common carotid artery (CCA) intima-media thickness (cIMT), a measure of atherosclerosis, varies between peak-systole (PS) and end-diastole (ED). This difference might affect cardiovascular risk assessment.
Materials and methods
IMT measurements of the right and left CCA were synchronized with an electrocardiogram: R-wave for ED and T-wave for PS. IMT was measured in 2930 members of the Framingham Offspring Study. Multivariable regression models were generated with ED-IMT, PS-IMT and change in IMT as dependent variables and Framingham risk factors as independent variables. ED-IMT estimates were compared to the upper quartile of IMT based on normative data obtained at PS.
Results
The average age of our population was 57.9 years. Average difference in IMT during the cardiac cycle was 0.037 mm (95% CI: 0.035–0.038 mm). ED-IMT and PS-IMT had similar associations with Framingham risk factors (total R2= 0.292 versus 0.275) and were significantly associated with all risk factors. In a fully adjusted multivariable model, a thinner IMT at peak-systole was associated with pulse pressure (p < 0.0001), LDL-cholesterol (p = 0.0064), age (p = 0.046), and no other risk factors. Performing ED-IMT measurements while using upper quartile PS-IMT normative data lead to inappropriately increasing by 42.1% the number of individuals in the fourth IMT quartile (high cardiovascular risk category).
Conclusion
The difference in IMT between peak-systole and end-diastole is associated with pulse pressure, LDL-cholesterol, and age. In our study, mean IMT difference during the cardiac cycle lead to an overestimation by 42.1% of individuals at high risk for cardiovascular disease.
doi:10.1016/j.echo.2012.05.007
PMCID: PMC3544292  PMID: 22721828
Ultrasonics; Risk Factors; Carotid Arteries; Blood Pressure; systole; diastole
5.  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.
Background
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.
Methods
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).
Results
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.
Conclusions
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 ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT01597453).
doi:10.1186/1756-0500-7-176
PMCID: PMC3986875  PMID: 24669965
Young stroke; Ischemic stroke; Risk factors; Carotid intima-media thickness; Atherosclerosis; Ultrasound
6.  Associations of edge detected and manual traced common carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) measurements with Framingham risk factors: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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%).
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1161/STROKEAHA.110.603449
PMCID: PMC3169166  PMID: 21546477
Ultrasonography; Risk Factors; Carotid Arteries; Carotid Intima Media Thickness
7.  Association between circulating leukocyte subtype counts and carotid intima-media thickness in Japanese subjects with type 2 diabetes 
Background
An increased leukocyte count is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular events, but the association between leukocyte subtype counts and carotid atherosclerosis in patients with diabetes has not been determined. We therefore investigated the correlation between leukocyte subtype counts and intima-media thickness of the common carotid artery (CCA-IMT) in subjects with type 2 diabetes.
Methods
This cross-sectional study involved 484 in-patients with type 2 diabetes (282 males and 202 females), who were hospitalized for glycemic control and underwent carotid ultrasonography at Kumamoto University Hospital between 2005 and 2011. Mean and maximum CCA-IMT was measured by high-resolution B-mode ultrasonography.
Results
Univariate analyses revealed that mean CCA-IMT was positively correlated with age, systolic blood pressure, brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity (PWV), urinary albumin excretion and duration of diabetes, but was negatively correlated with diastolic blood pressure and fasting plasma glucose. Maximum CCA-IMT was positively and negatively correlated with the same factors as mean CCA-IMT except for fasting plasma glucose. Mean CCA-IMT was positively correlated with total leukocyte (r = 0.124, p = 0.007), monocyte (r = 0.373, p < 0.001), neutrophil (r = 0.139, p = 0.002) and eosinophil (r = 0.107, p = 0.019) counts. Maximum CCA-IMT was positively correlated with total leukocyte (r = 0.154, p < 0.001), monocyte (r = 0.398, p < 0.001), neutrophil (r = 0.152, p < 0.001) and basophil counts (r = 0.102, p = 0.027). Multiple regression analyses showed that monocyte count, age and PWV were significant and independent factors associated with mean CCA-IMT (adjusted R2 = 0.239, p < 0.001), and that monocyte count, age and urinary albumin excretion were significant and independent factors associated with maximum CCA-IMT (adjusted R2 = 0.277, p < 0.001).
Conclusions
Monocyte counts were positively correlated with both mean CCA-IMT and maximum CCA-IMT in patients with type 2 diabetes. Monocyte count may be a useful predictor of macrovascular complications in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Trial registration
Trial registry no: UMIN000003526.
doi:10.1186/1475-2840-12-177
PMCID: PMC3878795  PMID: 24373412
Leukocyte subtype counts; Carotid intima-media thickness; Diabetic macrovascular complication; Type 2 diabetes
8.  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.
Objective
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.
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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)
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2007.07.032
PMCID: PMC4115586  PMID: 17804000
Brachial flow-mediated dilation; carotid intima-media thickness; endothelial function; atherosclerosis; elderly
9.  Longitudinal Predictors of Progression of Carotid Atherosclerosis in Rheumatoid Arthritis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2011;63(11):3216-3225.
Objective
To explore predictors of change in measures of carotid atherosclerosis among rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients without known cardiovascular disease (CVD) at baseline
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1002/art.30542
PMCID: PMC3205252  PMID: 21965129
Atherosclerosis; Inflammation; prediction; carotid ultrasound
10.  Long-Term Changes in Carotid Intima-Media Thickness among HIV-Infected Children and Young Adults 
Antiviral therapy  2013;19(1):61-68.
Objective
HIV+ patients are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). This study assessed long-term changes in carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) as a surrogate marker for CVD risk in HIV-infected children and young adults.
Methods
This was a longitudinal, observational study comparing carotid IMT in HIV-infected subjects 2–21 years old to matched controls over 144 weeks.
Results
34 HIV-infected and 29 controls were included in the analysis. Among the HIV-infected group, median age was 10 years, 74% black, and 65% female. 91% were perinatally-infected with 82% on antiretroviral therapy and a median CD4 count of 681 cells/mm3. At baseline, HIV-infected had increased internal carotid artery (ICA) and common carotid artery (CCA) IMT (mm) [ICA- HIV+: 0.90, controls: 0.73 (P<0.01); CCA- HIV+: 1.00, controls: 0.90 (P=0.02)]. Relatively large changes in ICA and CCA IMT were seen from year to year in both groups. However, by week 144, there were no net changes in ICA or CCA IMT within the HIV-infected group. In the controls, CCA increased 0.1 mm and ICA increased 0.17 mm from baseline to week 144. ICA and CCA IMT were similar between groups by 144 weeks.
Conclusion
Despite variations from year to year in carotid IMT in HIV-infected children and healthy controls, likely due to arterial growth and/or luminal diameter change, little or no net change occurred in carotid IMT over the entire 144-week study period. This suggests that only small net changes occur over time in HIV-infected children despite an increased long-term risk of CVD.
doi:10.3851/IMP2678
PMCID: PMC3938569  PMID: 23985545
HIV; atherosclerosis; cardiovascular disease; intima-media thickness; pediatrics; adolescents
11.  Associations of occupation, job control and job demands with intima-media thickness: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) 
Objectives
Occupation has been linked to cardiovascular disease (CVD) incidence and mortality, but few studies have investigated occupation in relation to early atherosclerotic disease. This study examined associations between various occupational characteristics and carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT) in a multi-ethnic sample.
Methods
The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) recruited 6814 adults aged 45e84 years and free of clinical CVD (response rate 60%, 51% female). Questionnaire data were used to determine occupational group (managerial/professional, sales/office, service, blue-collar), psychosocial job characteristics (ie, job demands, job control) and other sociodemographic information.
Results
Common carotid artery (CCA)-IMT was greater for blue-collar jobs than for management/professional jobs (mean difference=0.012 mm, p=0.049) after adjustment for age, sex, race, place of birth (US or foreign born) and CVD risk factors. Compared to management/professional jobs, internal carotid artery (ICA)-IMT was greater for sales/office, service and blue-collar jobs (mean difference=0.071 mm, p<0.001; 0.057 mm, p=0.009; and 0.110 mm, p<0.001, respectively) after adjustment for age, sex, race and place of birth. The difference between blue-collar jobs and management/professional jobs remained significant after additional adjustment for CVD risk factors, income and education (mean difference=0.048 mm, p=0.045). Higher levels of control at work were associated with thinner CCA-IMT (mean difference=‒0.009 mm, p=0.016, adjusted for age, sex, race and place of birth) but not with ICA-IMT. Job demands had no significant association with IMT.
Conclusions
Blue-collar jobs and low levels of job control were associated with the development of subclinical atherosclerosis.
doi:10.1136/oem.2010.055582
PMCID: PMC3073024  PMID: 20935285
12.  Association of the Endogenous Nitric Oxide Synthase Inhibitor ADMA with Carotid Artery Intimal Media Thickness in the Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort 
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.
Methods
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).
Results
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).
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1161/STROKEAHA.109.552539
PMCID: PMC2749947  PMID: 19498184
Carotid Intimal Medial Thickness; Endothelium; Epidemiology; Risk Factors; Nitric Oxide
13.  Bone mineral density and atherosclerosis: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, Abdominal Aortic Calcium Study 
Atherosclerosis  2009;209(1):283-289.
Context
Molecular and cell biology studies have demonstrated an association between bone and arterial wall disease, but the significance of a population-level association is less clear and potentially confounded by inability to account for shared risk factors.
Objective
To test population-level associations between atherosclerosis types and bone integrity.
Main Outcome Measures
Volumetric trabecular lumbar bone mineral density (vBMD), ankle-brachial index (ABI), intima-media thickness of the common carotid (CCA-IMT) and internal carotid (ICA-IMT) arteries, and carotid plaque echogenicity.
Design, Setting and Participants
A random subset of participants from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) assessed between 2002 and 2005.
Results
904 post-menopausal female (62.4 years; 62% non-white; 12% ABI<1; 17% CCA-IMT>1mm; 33% ICA-IMT>1mm) and 929 male (61.4 years; 58% non-white; 6% ABI<1; 25% CCA-IMT>1mm; 40% ICA-IMT>1mm) were included. In serial, sex-specific regression models adjusting for age, ethnicity, body mass index, dyslipidemia, hypertension, smoking, alcohol consumption, diabetes, homocysteine, interleukin-6, sex hormones, and renal function, lower vBMD was associated with lower ABI in men (p for trend <0.01) and greater ICA-IMT in men (p for trend <0.02). CCA-IMT was not associated with vBMD in men or women. Carotid plaque echogenicity was independently associated with lower vBMD in both men (trend p=0.01) and women (trend p<0.04). In all models, adjustment did not materially affect results.
Conclusions
Lower vBMD is independently associated with structural and functional measures of atherosclerosis in men and with more advanced and calcified carotid atherosclerotic plaques in both sexes.
doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2009.09.011
PMCID: PMC4254856  PMID: 19819456
14.  Carotid Artery Atherosclerosis, MRI Indices of Brain Ischemia and Aging and Cognitive Impairment: The Framingham Study 
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1161/STROKEAHA.108.535245
PMCID: PMC2705324  PMID: 19265054
Carotid atherosclerosis; brain MRI; cognitive performance
15.  Clinical utility of brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity in the prediction of cardiovascular events in diabetic patients 
Cardiovascular Diabetology  2014;13(1):128.
Abstract
Background
Brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity (baPWV) is a method to estimate arterial stiffness, which reflects the stiffness of both the aorta and peripheral artery; it would be applicable to general practice, since its measurementis automated. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether baPWV can be predictors of future cardiovascular events (CVE) in diabetic patients.
Methods
We prospectively evaluated the association between baPWV or carotid intima-media thickness (carotid IMT) at baseline and new onset of CVE in 1040 type 2 diabetic patients without CVE. The predictability of baPWV and/or carotid IMT for identifying patients at high risk for CVE was evaluated by time-dependent receiver-operating-characteristic (ROC) curve analysis.
Results
During a median follow-up of 7.5 years, 113 had new CVD events. The cumulative incidence rates of CVE were significantly higher in patients with high baPWV values (≥1550 cm/s) as compared to those with low baPWV values (<1550 cm/s) (p < 0.001, log-rank test). Similarly, the cumulative incidence rate of CVE was significantly higher in patients with higher maximum carotid IMT (maxIMT) values (≥1.0 mm) as compared to those with lower maxIMT values (<1.0 mm) (p < 0.001, log-rank test). Subjects with both “high PWV” and “high IMT” had a significantly higher risk of developing CVE as compared to those with either “high PWV” or “high IMT,” as well as those with neither. A multivariate Cox proportional hazards regression model revealed that both baPWV (HR = 1.30, [95%CI: 1.07-1.57]; p = 0.009) and maxIMT (HR = 1.20, [95%CI: 1.01-1.41]; p = 0.033) were independent predictors for CVE, even after adjustment for the conventional risk factors. Time-dependent ROC curve analyses revealed that the addition of maxIMT to the Framingham risk score resulted in significant increase in AUC (from 0.60 [95%CI: 0.54-0.67] to 0.63 [95%CI: 0.60-0.82]; p = 0.01). Notably, the addition of baPWV to the Framingham risk score and maxIMT resulted in further and significant (p = 0.02) increase in AUC (0.72 [95%CI: 0.67-0.78]).
Conclusions
Evaluation of baPWV, in addition to carotid IMT and conventional risk factors, improved the ability to identify the diabetic individuals with high risk for CVE.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12933-014-0128-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12933-014-0128-5
PMCID: PMC4172854  PMID: 25186287
Brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity (baPWV); Carotid intima-media thickness (carotid IMT); Cardiovascular risk; Diabetes mellitus
16.  Changes in Carotid Intima-Media Thickness During the Cardiac Cycle: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Background
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.
Conclusions
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: www.ClinicalTrials.gov. Unique identifier: NCT00063440. (J Am Heart Assoc. 2012;1:e001420 doi: 10.1161/JAHA.112.001420.)
doi:10.1161/JAHA.112.001420
PMCID: PMC3487346  PMID: 23130162
atherosclerosis; blood pressure; carotid arteries; diastole; epidemiology; risk factors; systole; ultrasonics
17.  Common carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT) progression as a predictor of stroke in MESA (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis) 
Background
Carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT) is a marker of cardiovascular disease associated with incident stroke. We study whether IMT rate-of-change is associated with stroke.
Materials and Methods
We studied 5028 participants of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) composed of whites, Chinese, Hispanic and African-Americans free of cardiovascular disease. In this MESA IMT progression study, IMT rate-of-change (mm/year) was the difference in right common carotid artery (CCA) far-wall IMT (mm) divided by the interval between two ultrasound examinations (median interval of 32 months). CCA IMT was measured in a region free of plaque. Cardiovascular risk factors and baseline IMT were determined when IMT rate-of-change was measured. Multivariable Cox proportional hazards models generated Hazard risk Ratios (HR) with cardiovascular risk factors, ethnicity and education level/income as predictors.
Results
There were 42 first time strokes seen during a mean follow-up of 3.22 years (median 3.0 years). Average age was 64.2 years, with 48% males. In multivariable models, age (HR: 1.05 per year), systolic blood pressure (HR 1.02 per mmHg), lower HDL cholesterol levels (HR: 0.96 per mg/dL) and IMT rate-of-change (HR 1.23 per 0.05 mm/year; 95% C.L. 1.02, 1.48) were significantly associated with incident stroke. The upper quartile of IMT rate-of-change had an HR of 2.18 (95% C.L.: 1.07, 4.46) compared to the lower three quartiles combined.
Conclusion
Common carotid artery IMT progression is associated with incident stroke in this cohort free of prevalent cardiovascular disease and atrial fibrillation at baseline.
doi:10.1161/STROKEAHA.111.625186
PMCID: PMC3202068  PMID: 21885840
Ultrasonography; Risk Factors; Carotid Arteries; Carotid Intima Media Thickness; stroke
18.  Association Between Carotid Intima-Media Thickness and Pericardial Fat in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) 
Introduction
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1016/j.jstrokecerebrovasdis.2009.03.008
PMCID: PMC2817960  PMID: 20123228
19.  Coronary Artery Calcium, Carotid Artery Wall Thickness and Cardiovascular Disease Outcomes in Adults 70 to 99 Years Old 
The American journal of cardiology  2008;101(2):186-192.
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.
doi:10.1016/j.amjcard.2007.07.075
PMCID: PMC2213559  PMID: 18178404
calcium; cardiovascular diseases; coronary disease; prognosis
20.  Alcohol consumption and carotid artery structure in Korean adults aged 50 years and older 
BMC Public Health  2009;9:358.
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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).
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-9-358
PMCID: PMC2761892  PMID: 19775442
21.  Morphological macrovascular alterations in complex regional pain syndrome type I demonstrated by increased intima-media thickness 
BMC Neurology  2013;13:14.
Background
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.
Methods
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).
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-13-14
PMCID: PMC3570292  PMID: 23383716
Complex regional pain syndrome; Macrovascular changes; Intima-media thickness; Inflammatory alterations
22.  Sex Differential Genetic Effect of Chromosome 9p21 on Subclinical Atherosclerosis 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(11):e15124.
Background
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0015124
PMCID: PMC2994883  PMID: 21152093
23.  Vitamin D is linked to carotid intima-media thickness and immune reconstitution in HIV-positive individuals 
Antiviral therapy  2011;16(4):555-563.
Background
Patients with HIV infection are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Vitamin D insufficiency has been associated with increased CVD risk in non-HIV populations. This study sought to determine the relationship between vitamin D status and markers of CVD and HIV-related factors in HIV-positive patients.
Methods
Patients with HIV infection on antiretroviral therapy and healthy controls were prospectively enrolled. Fasting lipids, glucose, insulin, inflammatory markers (soluble tumour necrosis factor-α receptor I, interleukin-6 and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein) and endothelial markers (soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 and soluble vascular cell adhesion molecule-1) were measured. Fasting 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) was measured from stored serum samples. The internal carotid artery and common carotid artery (CCA) intima-media thickness (IMT) were measured in a subset of HIV-positive patients. Baseline cross-sectional data were analysed.
Results
A total of 149 HIV-positive patients (56 with carotid IMT) and 34 controls were included. Controls had higher adjusted mean 25(OH)D levels than HIV-positive patients (P=0.02). In multivariable linear regression among the HIV-positive patients, 25(OH)D was positively associated with CD4+ T-cell restoration after antiretroviral therapy (ΔCD4 = current - nadir CD4+ T-cell; P<0.01), but was not associated with inflammatory or endothelial markers. In multivariable logistic regression, odds of having CCA IMT above the median were more than 10× higher in those with lower 25(OH)D levels (OR=10.62, 95% CI 1.37–82.34; P<0.01).
Conclusions
Vitamin D status in HIV-positive patients was positively associated with improved immune restoration after antiretroviral therapy and negatively associated with CCA IMT. These findings suggest that vitamin D may play a role in HIV-related CVD and in immune reconstitution after antiretroviral therapy.
doi:10.3851/IMP1784
PMCID: PMC3895475  PMID: 21685543
24.  Common carotid artery intima–media thickness is as good as carotid intima–media thickness of all carotid artery segments in improving prediction of coronary heart disease risk in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study 
European Heart Journal  2011;33(2):183-190.
Aims
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehr192
PMCID: PMC3258447  PMID: 21666250
CIMT; Plaque; Risk prediction
25.  Carotid Atherosclerosis as a Surrogate Maker of Cardiovascular Disease in Diabetic Patients 
ISRN Endocrinology  2013;2013:979481.
Many studies have shown that carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) is associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD). Although it remains inconclusive whether assessment of carotid IMT is useful as a screening test for CVD in Japanese diabetic patients, a total of 271 patients (151 men aged 66 ± 10 (standard deviation) years and 220 women aged 71 ± 8 years) were divided into two groups based on the presence of CVD. We cross-sectionally assessed the ability of carotid IMT to identify CVD corresponding to treatment that was examined by receiver-operating characteristic (ROC) curve analyses. Among the 271 diabetic patients, 199 non-CVD and 72 CVD patients were examined. Multiple linear regression analysis using the presence of CVD as an objective variable showed that carotid IMT (β = 0.259, P < 0.001) as well as other confounding factors was a significant independent contributing factor. The ROC curve analysis showed that the best marker of CVD was carotid IMT, with an area under the ROC curve of 0.718 (95% confidence interval (CI), 0.650–0.785). The greatest sensitivity and specificity were obtained when the cut-off value of mean carotid IMT was set at 0.95 mm (sensitivity = 0.71, specificity = 0.60, and accuracy = 0.627). Our study suggests that carotid IMT may be useful for screening diabetic patients with CVD.
doi:10.1155/2013/979481
PMCID: PMC3844178  PMID: 24319597

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