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1.  Prognostic Value of Frontal QRS-T Angle in Patients without Clinical Evidence of Cardiovascular Disease (From the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis [MESA]) 
The American journal of cardiology  2013;112(12):10.1016/j.amjcard.2013.08.017.
Abnormal frontal QRS-T angle on a 12 lead electrocardiogram (ECG) is associated with incident coronary heart disease and total mortality in a biracial cohort but there have been no studies to date examining QRS-T angle’s prognostic value across multiple ethnicities. We studied 6,814 participants (52.7% women, mean age 62) from MESA; a multi-ethnic cohort aged 45–84 free of clinical cardiovascular disease (CVD) at enrollment. Baseline examination included measurement of traditional risk factors and 12-lead ECG’s. Frontal QRS-T axis was defined as normal (<75th percentile), borderline (75–95th percentile) or abnormal (≥ 95th percentile) and participants were followed for the composite endpoint of incident CVD events: cardiovascular death, myocardial infarction, angina pectoris or heart failure. After 7.6 years of follow up there were 444 total events. Borderline ((HR 1.37 95% Confidence Interval (CI) (1.10,1.70)) and abnormal QRS-T angle (HR 2.2 95% CI (1.63, 2.97)) was associated with incident CVD events in multivariable-adjusted models. However, after adjusting for T wave abnormalities there was no statistically significant association of either borderline (HR 1.12 95% CI (0.90, 1.41)) or abnormal (HR 1.31 95% CI (0.93, 1.84)) QRS-T angle with incident CVD events. Abnormal frontal QRS-T angle predicts incident CVD events in a multiethnic population and this increased risk is primarily mediated through T wave abnormalities. QRS-T angle provides an easily interpretable, continuous marker of abnormal ventricular repolarization that can aid the everyday clinician in risk prediction.
PMCID: PMC3863114  PMID: 24063831
Electrocardiography; risk assessment; cardiovascular disease
2.  Competing Cardiovascular Outcomes Associated with Subclinical Atherosclerosis (From the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis) 
The American journal of cardiology  2013;111(11):1541-1546.
Subclinical atherosclerosis measured by coronary artery calcium (CAC) is associated with increased risk for multiple cardiovascular disease (CVD) outcomes and non-CVD death simultaneously, and we sought to determine the competing risks of specific cardiovascular disease (CVD) events and non-CVD death associated with varying burdens of subclinical atherosclerosis. We included 3095 men and 3486 women from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, aged 45–84 years, and from 4 ethnic groups. Participants were stratified by CAC scores: 0, 1–99, and ≥ 100. We used competing Cox models to determine competing cumulative incidences and hazards ratios within a group (e.g., among those with CAC ≥ 100) and hazards ratios for specific events between groups (e.g., CAC ≥ 100 vs. CAC = 0). We compared risks for specific CVD events and also compared against non-CVD death. In women, during a mean follow up of 7.1 years, the hazards ratios (HR) for any CVD event compared with a non-CVD death occurring first for CAC = 0 and CAC ≥ 100 were 1.40 (95% CI, 0.97–2.04) and 3.07 (2.02–4.67), respectively. CHD was the most common first CVD event type at all levels of CAC, and CHD rates were 9.5% vs. 1.6% (HR 6.24; 3.99–9.75) for women with CAC ≥100 compared with CAC = 0. We observed similar results in men. In conclusion, at all levels of CAC, CHD was the most common first CVD event and this analysis represents a novel approach to understanding the temporal sequence of cardiovascular events associated with atherosclerosis.
PMCID: PMC3657323  PMID: 23499272
coronary artery calcium; competing risks
3.  Natural History of the Early Repolarization Pattern in a Biracial Cohort: CARDIA (Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults) Study 
The objective of this analysis was to determine the natural history and prospective association of cardiovascular risk factors with early repolarization (ER).
ER is common and has been suggested to increase risk for cardiovascular mortality in middle-aged adults. Data are sparse regarding the natural history of ER from young adulthood to middle age.
We examined 5,069 participants (mean age 25 years at baseline; 40% black) from the CARDIA (Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults) cohort over 20 years. Electrocardiograms were recorded at years 0 (Y0), 7 (Y7), and 20 (Y20) and coded as either definite, probable, possible, or no ER. Logistic regression was used to determine the association of cardiovascular risk factors with the presence of ER cross-sectionally and prospectively.
A total of 941 of the 5,069 participants (18.6%) had definite ER at baseline, and only 119 of 2,505 participants (4.8%) at the Y20 examination still demonstrated the presence of ER. Younger age, black race, male sex, longer exercise duration and QRS duration, and lower body mass index (BMI), heart rate, QT index, and Cornell voltage were associated cross-sectionally with the presence of ER. Predictors of maintenance of ER from Y0 to Y20 were black race (odds ratio [OR]: 2.62; 95% CI; 1.61 to 4.25), BMI (OR: 0.62 per 1 SD; 95% CI: 0.40 to 0.94), serum triglyceride levels (OR: 0.66 per 1 SD; 95% CI: 0.45 to 0.98), and QRS duration (OR: 1.68 per 1 SD; 95% CI: 1.37 to 2.06) at baseline.
The prevalence of ER was significantly higher than previous estimates among asymptomatic young adults, and the majority of ER regressed by middle age. Black race, lower BMI, lower serum triglyceride levels, and longer QRS duration were independently associated with maintenance of ER over time.
PMCID: PMC3748821  PMID: 23428218
early repolarization; electrocardiography; epidemiology
4.  Competing cardiovascular outcomes associated with electrocardiographic left ventricular hypertrophy: the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study 
Heart (British Cardiac Society)  2011;98(4):330-334.
Individuals with electrocardiographically-determined left ventricular hypertrophy (ECG LVH) are at risk for multiple cardiovascular disease (CVD) outcomes simultaneously. We sought to characterize the competing incidences for subtypes of first CVD events or non-CVD death in those with and without ECG LVH.
We included participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study. ECG LVH was defined according to Sokolow-Lyon criteria. We used competing Cox models to compare hazards for diverse outcomes within groups (e.g., among those with ECG LVH) and for a given event between groups (ECG LVH versus no ECG LVH).
After 15 years, men with ECG LVH at baseline (N = 383) had cumulative incidence of first CVD events and non-CVD deaths of 29.2% and 6.1%, respectively (hazard ratio 4.86; 95% CI, 3.04–7.77). In men without ECG LVH (N = 6576) the incidence of any first CVD event and non-CVD death was 18.9% and 6.9%, respectively (hazard ratio 2.67; 2.39–2.98). Similar associations were observed in women (N = 381 with and N = 8187 without ECG LVH). Coronary heart disease (CHD) was the most common first event in men with ECG LVH (15.0%) and heart failure (HF) was the most common first event in women with ECG LVH (10.5%). After adjustment for risk factors including systolic blood pressure, any CVD event remained the most likely first event.
Among middle-aged individuals with ECG LVH, the most likely first events are CHD in men and HF in women; these results may have implications for preventive approaches.
PMCID: PMC3569012  PMID: 22139711
left ventricular hypertrophy; cardiovascular disease; coronary heart disease; stroke; heart failure
5.  Cardiovascular Health Behavior and Health Factor Changes (1988 –2008) and Projections to 2020 
Circulation  2012;125(21):2595-2602.
The American Heart Association’s 2020 Strategic Impact Goals target a 20% relative improvement in overall cardiovascular health with the use of 4 health behavior (smoking, diet, physical activity, body mass) and 3 health factor (plasma glucose, cholesterol, blood pressure) metrics. We sought to define current trends and forward projections to 2020 in cardiovascular health.
Methods and Results
We included 35 059 cardiovascular disease–free adults (aged ≥20 years) from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1988–1994 and subsequent 2-year cycles during 1999–2008. We calculated population prevalence of poor, intermediate, and ideal health behaviors and factors and also computed a composite, individual-level Cardiovascular Health Score for all 7 metrics (poor=0 points; intermediate=1 point; ideal=2 points; total range, 0–14 points). Prevalence of current and former smoking, hypercholesterolemia, and hypertension declined, whereas prevalence of obesity and dysglycemia increased through 2008. Physical activity levels and low diet quality scores changed minimally. Projections to 2020 suggest that obesity and impaired fasting glucose/diabetes mellitus could increase to affect 43% and 77% of US men and 42% and 53% of US women, respectively. Overall, population-level cardiovascular health is projected to improve by 6% overall by 2020 if current trends continue. Individual-level Cardiovascular Health Score projections to 2020 (men=7.4 [95% confidence interval, 5.7–9.1]; women=8.8 [95% confidence interval, 7.6–9.9]) fall well below the level needed to achieve a 20% improvement (men=9.4; women=10.1).
The American Heart Association 2020 target of improving cardiovascular health by 20% by 2020 will not be reached if current trends continue.
PMCID: PMC3914399  PMID: 22547667
cardiovascular disease risk factors; epidemiology; risk factors; trends
6.  Prevalence, Prospective Risk Markers, and Prognosis Associated With the Presence of Left Ventricular Diastolic Dysfunction in Young Adults 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2012;177(1):20-32.
The authors sought to determine the prevalence, prospective risk markers, and prognosis associated with diastolic dysfunction in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study. The CARDIA Study cohort includes approximately equal proportions of white and black men and women. The authors collected data on risk markers at year 0 (1985–1986), and echocardiography was done at year 5 when the participants were 23–35 years of age. Participants were followed for 20 years (through 2010) for a composite endpoint of all-cause mortality, myocardial infarction, heart failure, and stroke. Diastolic function was defined according to a validated hierarchical classification algorithm. In the 2,952 participants included in the primary analysis, severe diastolic dysfunction was present in 1.1% and abnormal relaxation was present in 9.3%. Systolic blood pressure at year 0 was associated with both severe diastolic dysfunction and abnormal relaxation 5 years later, whereas exercise capacity and pulmonary function abnormalities were associated only with abnormal relaxation 5 years later. After multivariate adjustment, the hazard ratios for the composite endpoint in participants with severe diastolic dysfunction and abnormal relaxation were 4.3 (95% confidence interval: 2.0, 9.3) and 1.6 (95% confidence interval: 1.1, 2.5), respectively. Diastolic dysfunction in young adults is associated with increased morbidity and mortality, and the identification of prospective risk markers associated with diastolic dysfunction could allow for targeted primary prevention efforts.
PMCID: PMC3590041  PMID: 23211639
CARDIA study; clinical outcomes; diastolic dysfunction; left ventricle
7.  Remaining Lifetime Risk for Cancer Death at Selected Ages by Sex and Smoking status: The Lifetime Risk Pooling Project 
Cancer causes & control : CCC  2012;23(10):1729-1737.
Understanding how sex and tobacco exposure may modify lifetime risks for cancer mortality is important for effective communication of risk in targeted public health messages.
To determine lifetime risk estimates for cancer death associated with sex and smoking status in the United States.
A pooled cohort design using ten well-defined epidemiologic cohorts including middle-aged and older individuals was used to estimate the lifetime risk for cancer death at selected index ages, with death from non-cancer causes as the competing risk, by sex and smoking status.
There were a total of 11,317 cancer-related deaths. At age 45 years, the lifetime risk of cancer death for male smokers is 27.7% (95% CI 24.0% to 31.4%) compared to 15.8% (95% CI 12.7% to 18.9%) for male non-smokers. At age 45 years, the lifetime risk of cancer death for female smokers is 21.7% (95% CI 18.8% to 24.6%) compared to 13.2% (95% CI 11.0% to 15.4%) for female non-smokers. Remaining lifetime risk for cancer death declined with age, and men have a greater risk for cancer death compared to women. Adjustment for competing risk of death, particularly representing cardiovascular mortality, yielded a greater change in lifetime risk estimates for men and smokers compared to women and non-smokers.
At the population level the lifetime risk for cancer death remains significantly higher for smokers compared to non-smokers, regardless of sex. These estimates may provide clinicians with useful information for counseling individual patients and highlight the need for continued public health efforts related to smoking cessation.
PMCID: PMC3542389  PMID: 22825072
Tobacco; Smoking; Cancer; Lifetime Risk; Cancer mortality; Sex
8.  Yield of Screening for Coronary Artery Calcium in Early Middle-Age Adults Based on the 10-Year Framingham Risk Score 
JACC. Cardiovascular imaging  2012;5(9):923-930.
The purpose of this study was to assess the prevalence and distribution of coronary artery calcium (CAC) across Framingham Risk Score (FRS) strata and therefore determine FRS levels at which asymptomatic, young to early middle-age individuals could potentially benefit from CAC screening.
High CAC burden is associated with increased risk of coronary events beyond the FRS. Expert panel recommendations for CAC screening are based on data obtained in middle-age and older individuals.
We included 2,831 CARDIA (Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults) study participants with an age range of 33 to 45 years. The number needed to screen ([NNS] number of people in each FRS stratum who need to be screened to detect 1 person with a CAC score above the specified cut point) was used to assess the yield of screening for CAC. CAC prevalence was compared across FRS strata using a chi-square test.
CAC scores >0 and ≥100 were present in 9.9% and 1.8% of participants, respectively. CAC prevalence and amount increased across higher FRS strata. A CAC score >0 was observed in 7.3%, 20.2%, 19.1%, and 44.8% of individuals with FRSs of 0 to 2.5%, 2.6% to 5%, 5.1% to 10%, and >10%, respectively (NNS = 14, 5, 5, and 2, respectively). A CAC score of ≥100 was observed in 1.3%, 2.4%, and 3.5% of those with FRSs of 0 to 2.5%, 2.6% to 5%, and 5.1% to 10%, respectively (NNS = 79, 41, and 29, respectively), but in 17.2% of those with an FRS >10% (NNS = 6). Similar trends were observed when findings were stratified by sex and race.
In this young to early middle-age cohort, we observed concordance between CAC prevalence/amount and FRS strata. Within this group, the yield of screening and possibility of identifying those with a high CAC burden (CAC score of ≥100) is low in those with an FRS of ≤10%, but considerable in those with an FRS >10%.
PMCID: PMC3664953  PMID: 22974805
coronary artery calcium; coronary heart disease; Framingham Risk Score; number needed to screen; risk factors
9.  Racial Differences in Risks for First Cardiovascular Events and Non-Cardiovascular Death: the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (ARIC), the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS), and the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) 
Circulation  2012;126(1):50-59.
No studies have compared first CVD events and non-CVD death between races in a competing risks framework, which examines risks for numerous events simultaneously.
Methods and Results
We used competing Cox models to estimate hazards for first CVD events and non-CVD death within and between races in three multi-center, NHLBI-sponsored cohorts. Of 14569 ARIC study participants aged 45–64y with mean follow up of 10.5y, 11.6% had CVD and 5.0% had non-CVD death as first events; among 4237 CHS study participants aged 65–84y and followed for 8.5y, these figures were 43.2% and 15.7%, respectively. Middle-aged blacks were significantly more likely than whites to experience any CVD as a first event; this disparity disappeared by older adulthood and after adjustment for CVD risk factors. The pattern of results was similar for MESA participants. Traditional Cox and competing risks models yielded different results for CHD risk. Black men appeared somewhat more likely than white men to experience CHD using a standard Cox model (HR 1.06; 95% CI 0.90, 1.26) whereas they appeared less likely than white men to have a first CHD event using a competing risks model (HR 0.77; 95% CI 0.60, 1.00).
CVD affects blacks at an earlier age than whites; this may be partially attributable to elevated CVD risk factor levels among blacks. Racial disparities in first CVD incidence disappear by older adulthood. Competing risks analyses may yield somewhat different results than traditional Cox models and provide a complementary approach to examining risks for first CVD events.
PMCID: PMC3437934  PMID: 22693351
cardiovascular diseases; epidemiology; prevention; risk factors; survival
10.  The compensation for asynchronous cardiac quiescence in coronary wall MR imaging 
The aim of the present study was to assess the incremental benefit of compensating asynchronous cardiac quiescence in coronary wall MR imaging. With the approval of IRB, black-blood coronary wall MR imaging was performed on 30 older subjects (90 coronary wall segments). For round 1 coronary wall MR imaging, acquisition windows were traditionally set within rest period 4-chamber. Totally 51 of 90 images were ranked as "good" images and resulted in an interpretability rate of 57%. Then, an additional cine-MR was centered at coronary segments to obtain rest period cross-sectional. The rest period overlap (the intersection between rest period 4-chamber and rest period cross-sectional) was measured for each coronary segments. The "good" images had a longer rest period overlap and higher acquisition coincidence rate (the percentage of acquisition window covered by the rest period overlap) than "poor" images. Coronary wall rescans (round 2) were completed at 39 coronary segments that were judged as having "poor" images in round 1 scans. The acquisition windows was set within the rest period overlap. For the round 2 images, 17 of 39 (44%) coronary segments was ranked as "good" images. The overall interpretability rate (68 of 90, 76%) was significantly higher than that of the round 1 images alone. Our data demonstrated that asynchronous cardiac quiescence adversely affects the performance of coronary wall MR imaging. Individualizing acquisition windows based on multi-plane cine-MR imaging helps to compensate for this motion discrepancy and to improve image quality.
PMCID: PMC3946801  PMID: 24170261
Coronary wall MR imaging; Asynchronous quiescence; Compensation
11.  Prevalence of Electrocardiographic Abnormalities in a Middle-Aged, Biracial Population: Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study 
Journal of electrocardiology  2010;43(5):385.e1-385.e9.
Few studies to date have described the prevalence of electrocardiographic (ECG) abnormalities in a biracial middle-aged cohort.
Methods and Results
Participants underwent measurement of traditional risk factors and 12-lead ECGs coded using both Minnesota Code (MC) and Novacode (NC) criteria. Among 2585 participants, of whom 57% were women and 44% were black (mean age 45 years), the prevalence of major and minor abnormalities were significantly higher (all P<0.001) among black men and women compared to whites. These differences were primarily due to higher QRS voltage and ST/T wave abnormalities among blacks. There was also a higher prevalence of Q waves (MC 1-1, 1-2, 1-3) than described by previous studies. These racial differences remained after multivariate adjustment for traditional cardiovascular (CV) risk factors.
Black men and women have a significantly higher prevalence of ECG abnormalities, independent of traditional CV risk factors, than whites in a contemporary cohort middle-aged participants.
PMCID: PMC3569004  PMID: 20374967
12.  Prediction of Coronary Artery Calcium Progression in Individuals with Low Framingham Risk Score: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) 
Jacc. Cardiovascular Imaging  2012;5(2):144-153.
We sought to determine whether novel markers not involving ionizing radiation could predict CAC progression in a low-risk population.
Increase in coronary artery calcium (CAC) scores over time (CAC progression) improves prediction of coronary heart disease (CHD) events. Due to radiation exposure, CAC measurement represents an undesirable method for repeated risk assessment, particularly in low predicted risk individuals (Framingham Risk Score [FRS] <10%).
From 6814 MESA participants, 2620 individuals were classified as low risk for CHD events (FRS <10%), and had follow-up CAC measurement. In addition to traditional risk factors [(RFs) - base model], various combinations of novel-marker models were selected based on data-driven, clinical, or backward stepwise selection techniques.
Mean follow-up was 2.5 years. CAC progression occurred in 574 participants (22% overall; 214 of 1830 with baseline CAC =0, and 360 of 790 with baseline CAC >0). Addition of various combinations of novel markers to the base model (c-statistic =0.711), showed improvements in discrimination of approximately only 0.005 each (c-statistics 0.7158, 0.7160 and 0.7164) for the best-fit models. All 3 best-fit novel-marker models calibrated well but were similar to the base model in predicting individual risk probabilities for CAC progression. The highest prevalence of CAC progression occurred in the highest compared to the lowest probability quartile groups (39.2–40.3% versus 6.4–7.1%).
In individuals at low predicted risk by FRS, traditional RFs predicted CAC progression in the short term with good discrimination and calibration. Prediction improved minimally when various novel markers were added to the model.
PMCID: PMC3310187  PMID: 22340820
coronary calcium; Framingham risk score; risk factors; progression
13.  Incident Obesity and Cardiovascular Risk Factors Between Young Adulthood and Middle Age by Religious Involvement: The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study 
Preventive Medicine  2011;54(2):117-121.
Religious involvement has been associated with improved health outcomes but greater obesity in older adults. No longitudinal study of young adults has examined the prospective association of religious involvement with incident cardiovascular risk factors (RFs) and subclinical disease (subCVD).
We included 2433 participants of the CARDIA study, aged 20 to 32 in 1987 when religiosity was assessed, who were followed for 18 years. Multivariable-adjusted regression models were fitted to assess prospective associations of frequency of religious participation at baseline with incidence of RFs and prevalence of subCVD after 18 years’ follow up.
High frequency of religious participation was associated with a significantly greater incidence of obesity in unadjusted models (RR 1.57, 95% CI 1.14 – 1.73) and demographic-adjusted models (RR 1.34, 95% CI 1.09 – 1.65) but not after additional adjustment for baseline RFs (RR 1.17, 95% CI 0.97 – 1.41). When religious participation was treated dichotomously, any religious participation, compared with none, was associated with significantly lower subCVD.
Frequent religious participants are more likely to become obese between young adulthood and middle age; this association is confounded by demographic and other factors. Nonetheless, young adults with frequent participation may represent an opportunity for obesity prevention.
PMCID: PMC3310238  PMID: 22155479
Religion; Cardiovascular Disease; Obesity; Epidemiology; Prevention
14.  Impact of Blood Pressure and Blood Pressure Change during Middle Age on the Remaining Lifetime Risk for Cardiovascular Disease: The Cardiovascular Lifetime Risk Pooling Project 
Circulation  2011;125(1):37-44.
Prior estimates of lifetime risk (LTR) for cardiovascular disease (CVD) examined the impact of blood pressure at the index age and did not account for changes in blood pressure over time. We examined how changes in blood pressure during middle-age affect LTR for CVD, coronary heart disease (CHD) and stroke.
Methods and Results
Data from 7 diverse US cohort studies were pooled. Remaining LTR for CVD, CHD and stroke were estimated for White and Black men and women with death free of CVD as a competing event. LTR for CVD by blood pressure (BP) strata and by changes in BP over an average of 14 years were estimated. Starting at age 55, we followed 61,585 men and women for 700,000 person-years. LTR for CVD was 52.5% (95% CI 51.3–53.7) for men and 39.9% (38.7–41.0) for women. LTR for CVD was higher for Blacks and increased with increasing BP at index age. Individuals who maintained or decreased their BP to normal levels had the lowest remaining LTR for CVD, 22–41%, as compared to individuals who had or developed hypertension by the age of 55, 42–69%; suggesting a dose-response effect for the length of time at high BP levels
Individuals who experience increases or decreases in BP in middle age have associated higher and lower remaining LTR for CVD. Prevention efforts should continue to emphasize the importance of lowering BP and avoiding or delaying the incidence of hypertension in order to reduce the LTR for CVD.
PMCID: PMC3310202  PMID: 22184621
cardiovascular disease; coronary heart disease; stroke; hypertension; risk factors
15.  Impact of Inflammatory Biomarkers on Relation of High Density Lipoprotein-Cholesterol with Incident Coronary Heart Disease: Cardiovascular Health Study 
Atherosclerosis  2013;231(2):10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2013.08.036.
Inflammatory factors and low HDL-C relate to CHD risk, but whether inflammation attenuates any protective association of high HDL-C is unknown.
Investigate inflammatory markers' individual and collective impact on the association of HDL-C with incident coronary heart disease (CHD).
In 3,888 older adults without known cardiovascular disease (CVD), we examined if the inflammatory markers C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and lipoprotein-associated phospholipase A2 (Lp-PLA2) modify the relation of HDL-C with CHD. HDL-C, CRP, IL-6, and Lp-PLA2 values were grouped as using gender-specific tertiles. Also, an inflammation index of z-score sums for CRP, IL-6, and Lp-PLA2 was categorized into tertiles. We calculated CHD incidence for each HDL-C/inflammation group and performed Cox regression, adjusted for standard CVD risk factors and triglycerides to examine the relationship of combined HDL-C-inflammation groups with incident events.
CHD incidence (per 1,000 person years) was higher for higher levels of CRP, IL-6, and the index, and lower for higher levels of HDL-C. Compared to high HDL-C/low-inflammation categories (referent), adjusted HRs for incident CHD were increased for those with high HDL-C and high CRP (HR=1.50, p<0.01) or highest IL-6 tertile (HR=1.40, p<0.05), but not with highest Lp-PLA2 tertile. Higher CHD incidence was similarly seen for those with intermediate or low HDL-C accompanied by high CRP, high IL-6, or a high inflammatory index.
The protective relation of high HDL-C for incident CHD appears to be attenuated by greater inflammation.
PMCID: PMC3858257  PMID: 24267235
High Density Lipoprotein; Inflammation; C-Reactive Protein; Coronary Heart Disease
16.  Distribution of Coronary Artery Calcium Scores by Framingham 10-Year Risk Strata in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA): Potential Implications for Coronary Risk Assessment 
By examining the distribution of CAC across FRS strata in a large, multi-ethnic, community-based sample of men and women, we sought to determine if lower risk persons could potentially benefit from CAC screening.
The 10-year Framingham risk scores (FRS) and coronary artery calcium (CAC) are predictors of coronary heart disease (CHD). CAC ≥300 is associated with the highest risk for CHD even in low risk (FRS <10%) persons; however expert groups have suggested CAC screening only in intermediate risk (FRS 10–20%) groups.
We included 5660 MESA participants. The number needed to screen [number of people that need to be screened to detect one person with CAC above the specified cut-point (NNS)] was used to assess the yield of screening for CAC. CAC prevalence was compared across FRS strata using chi-square tests.
CAC >0, ≥100 and ≥300 were present in 46.4%, 20.6% and 10.1% of participants, respectively. Prevalence and amount of CAC increased with higher FRS. CAC ≥300 was observed in 1.7% and 4.4% of those with FRS 0–2.5% and 2.6–5%, respectively (NNS =59.7 and 22.7). Likewise, CAC ≥300 was observed in 24% and 30% of those with FRS 15.1–20% and >20%, respectively (NNS =4.2 and 3.3). Trends were similar when stratified by age, gender and race/ethnicity.
Our study suggests that in very low risk individuals (FRS ≤5%), the yield of screening and probability of identifying persons with clinically significant levels of CAC is low, but becomes greater in low and intermediate risk persons (FRS 5.1–20%).
PMCID: PMC3268231  PMID: 21527159
Framingham risk score; coronary calcium; coronary heart disease; number needed to screen; risk factors; population; atherosclerosis; low risk
17.  Factors Associated with Presence and Extent of Coronary Calcium in Individuals Predicted to be at Low Risk Based on Framingham Risk Score (From The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis) 
The American journal of cardiology  2011;107(6):879-885.
Even among asymptomatic people at low risk (<10%) by Framingham Risk Score (FRS), high coronary artery calcium (CAC) scores signify higher predicted risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) events. We sought to determine non-invasive factors (without radiation exposure) significantly associated with CAC in low-risk, asymptomatic persons. In a cross-sectional analysis, we studied 3046 participants from MESA at low 10-year predicted risk (FRS <10%) for CHD events. Multivariable logistic regression was used to assess the association of novel markers with presence of any CAC (CAC >0) and advanced CAC (CAC ≥ 300). CAC >0 and CAC ≥ 300 were present in 30% and 3.5% of participants, respectively. Factor VIIIc, fibrinogen and sICAM were each associated with CAC presence (P ≤ 0.02); and C-reactive protein, D-dimer and carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) with advanced CAC (P ≤ 0.03). The base model combining traditional risk factors had excellent discrimination for advanced CAC (C-statistic, 0.808). Addition of the 2 best-fit models combining biomarkers plus/minus CIMT improved the c-statistics to 0.822 and 0.820, respectively. All 3 models calibrated well, but were similar in estimating individual risk probabilities for advanced CAC (prevalence = 9.97%, 10.63% and 10.10% in the highest quartiles of predicted probabilities versus 0.26%, 0.26% and 0.26% in the lowest quartiles, respectively). In conclusion, in low risk individuals, traditional risk factors alone predicted advanced CAC with high discrimination and calibration. Biomarker combinations +/− CIMT were also significantly associated with advanced CAC, but improvement in prediction and estimation of clinical risk were modest compared to traditional risk factors alone.
PMCID: PMC3182475  PMID: 21376929
coronary calcium; biomarkers; novel markers; low-risk; risk factors
18.  Chicago Healthy Aging Study: Objectives and Design 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2013;178(4):635-644.
Investigators in the Chicago Healthy Aging Study (CHAS) reexamined 1,395 surviving participants aged 65–84 years (28% women) from the Chicago Heart Association Detection Project in Industry (CHA) 1967–1973 cohort whose cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk profiles were originally ascertained at ages 25–44 years. CHAS investigators reexamined 421 participants who were low-risk (LR) at baseline and 974 participants who were non-LR at baseline. LR was defined as having favorable levels of 4 major CVD risk factors: serum total cholesterol level <200 mg/dL and no use of cholesterol-lowering medication; blood pressure 120/≤80 mm Hg and no use of antihypertensive medication; no current smoking; and no history of diabetes or heart attack. While the potential of LR status in overcoming the CVD epidemic is being recognized, the long-term association of LR with objectively measured health in older age has not been examined. It is hypothesized that persons who were LR in 1967–1973 and have survived to older age will have less clinical and subclinical CVD, lower levels of inflammatory markers, and better physical performance/functioning and sleep quality. Here we describe the rationale, objectives, design, and implementation of this longitudinal epidemiologic study, compare baseline and follow-up characteristics of participants and nonparticipants, and highlight the feasibility of reexamining study participants after an extended period postbaseline with minimal interim contact.
PMCID: PMC3816341  PMID: 23669655
cardiovascular disease; epidemiologic studies; follow-up examination; risk factors
19.  Association of Cardiac Annular / Valvular Calcification with Brain Findings on Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Community Dwelling Older Adults: the Cardiovascular Health Study 
The objective of this study is to investigate the association of mitral annular calcification (MAC), aortic annular calcification (AAC), and aortic valve sclerosis (AVSc) with covert magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-defined brain infarcts.
Clinically silent brain infarcts defined by MRI are associated with increased risk of cognitive decline, dementia, and future overt stroke. Left sided cardiac valvular / annular calcifications are suspected as risk factors for clinical ischemic stroke.
2,680 Cardiovascular Health Study participants without clinical history of stroke or transient ischemic attack underwent both brain MRI (1992–93) and echocardiography (1994–95).
The mean age of the participants was 74.5 years ± 4.8 and 39.3% were men. The presence of any annular / valvular calcification (either MAC or AAC or AVSc), MAC alone, or AAC alone were significantly associated with a higher prevalence of covert brain infarcts in unadjusted analyses (p < 0.01 for all). In models adjusted for age, sex, race, body mass index, physical activity, creatinine, systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, coronary heart disease, and congestive heart failure, the presence of any annular / valve calcification remained associated with covert brain infarcts [RR 1.24 (95% CI 1.05, 1.47)]. The degree of annular / valvular calcification severity showed a direct relation with the presence of covert MRI findings.
Left-sided cardiac annular / valvular calcification are associated with covert MRI-defined brain infarcts. Further study is warranted to identify mechanisms and determine whether intervening on the progression of annular / valvular calcification could reduce the incidence of covert brain infarcts as well as the associated risk of cognitive impairment and future stroke.
PMCID: PMC4104125  PMID: 21596233
Covert Brain Infarcts; Aortic Valve; Mitral Valve; Calcification; Epidemiology
20.  The Association of Framingham and Reynolds Risk Scores with Incidence and Progression of Coronary Artery Calcification in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
To compare the association of the Framingham Risk Score (FRS) and Reynolds Risk Score (RRS) with subclinical atherosclerosis, assessed by incidence and progression of coronary artery calcium (CAC).
The comparative effectiveness of competing risk algorithms for indentifying subclinical atherosclerosis is unknown.
The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) is a prospective cohort study of 6,814 participants free of baseline CVD. All participants underwent risk factor assessment, as well as baseline and follow-up CAC testing. We assessed the performance of the FRS and RRS to predict CAC incidence and progression using relative risk and robust linear regression.
The study population included 5,140 individuals (61±10 years, 47% males, mean follow-up: 3.1±1.3 years). Among 53% of subjects (n=2,729) with no baseline CAC, 18% (n=510) developed incident CAC. Both the FRS and RRS were significantly predictive of incident CAC [RR 1.40 (95% CI 1.29 – 1.52), and RR 1.41 (95% CI 1.30 – 1.54) per 5% increase in risk, respectively] and CAC progression [mean CAC score change 6.92 (95% CI 5.31 – 8.54) and 6.82 (95% CI 5.51 – 8.14) per 5% increase]. Discordance in risk category classification (< or > 10% 10-year CHD risk) occurred in 13.7%, with only the RRS consistently adding predictive value for incidence and progression of CAC. These subclinical atherosclerosis findings are supported by a CHD events analysis over 5.6±0.7 year follow-up.
Both the RRS and FRS predict onset and progression of subclinical atherosclerosis. However, the RRS may provide additional predictive information when discordance between the scoring systems exists.
PMCID: PMC4079464  PMID: 22051329
coronary artery calcium progression; subclinical atherosclerosis; risk prediction; Reynolds Risk Score; Framingham Risk Score
21.  Status of Cardiovascular Health in US Adults: Prevalence Estimates from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) 2003-2008 
Circulation  2011;125(1):45-56.
The American Heart Association's 2020 Strategic Impact Goals define a new concept, “cardiovascular (CV) health”; however, current prevalence estimates of the status of CV health in U.S. adults according to age, sex and race/ethnicity have not been published.
Methods and Results
We included 14,515 adults (≥20 years) from the 2003-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. Participants were stratified by young (20-39 years), middle (40-64 years), and older ages (65+ years). CV health behaviors (diet, physical activity, body mass index, smoking) and CV health factors (blood pressure, total cholesterol, fasting blood glucose, smoking) were defined as poor, intermediate, or ideal. Less than 1% of adults exhibited ideal CV health for all 7 metrics. For CV health behaviors, non-smoking was most prevalent (range:60.2-90.4%) while ideal Healthy Diet Score was least prevalent (range:0.2-2.6%) across groups. Prevalence of ideal BMI (range:36.5-45.3%) and ideal physical activity levels (range:50.2-58.8%) were higher in young adults compared to middle or older ages. Ideal total cholesterol (range:23.7-36.2%), blood pressure (range:11.9-16.3%) and fasting blood glucose (range:31.2-42.9%) were lower in older adults compared with young and middle age adults.Prevalence of poor CV health factors was lowest in young age but higher at middle and older ages. Prevalence estimates by age and sex were consistent across race/ethnic groups.
These prevalence estimates of CV health represent a starting point from which effectiveness of efforts to promote CV health and prevent CV disease can be monitored and compared in U.S. adult populations.
PMCID: PMC4077723  PMID: 22095826
Cardiovascular Diseases; Diet; Epidemiology; Obesity; Risk Factors
22.  Quantifying Options for Reducing Coronary Heart Disease Mortality By 2020 
Circulation  2013;127(25):2477-2484.
The AHA 2020 Strategic Impact Goal proposes a 20% improvement in cardiovascular health of all Americans. We aimed to estimate the potential reduction in coronary heart disease (CHD) deaths.
Methods and Results
We used data on 40,373 CVD-free adults from NHANES (1988–2010). We quantified recent trends for six metrics (total cholesterol [TC]; systolic blood pressure [SBP]; physical inactivity; smoking; diabetes; obesity) and generated linear projections to 2020. We projected the expected number of CHD deaths in 2020 if 2006 age- and sex-specific CHD death rates remained constant, which would result in approximately 480,000 CHD deaths in 2020 (12% increase). We used the previously validated IMPACT CHD model to project numbers of CHD deaths in 2020 under two different scenarios.
A) Assuming a 20% improvement in each CVH metric, we project 365,000 CHD deaths in 2020, (range 327,000–403,000) a 24% decrease reflecting modest reductions in TC (−41,000), SBP (−36,000), physical inactivity (−12,000), smoking (−10,000), diabetes (−10,000), and obesity (−5,000). B) Assuming that recent risk factor trends continue to 2020, we project 335,000 CHD deaths (range 274,000–386,000), a 30% decrease reflecting improvements in TC, SBP, smoking and physical activity (~167,000 fewer deaths), offset by increases in diabetes and BMI (~24,000 more deaths).
Two contrasting scenarios of change in CVH metrics could prevent 24–30% of the CHD deaths expected in 2020, though with differing impacts by age. Unfavorable continuing trends in obesity and diabetes would have substantial adverse effects. This analysis demonstrates the utility of modelling to inform health policy.
PMCID: PMC3795417  PMID: 23661723
heart disease; American Heart Association; epidemiology; risk factor
National guidelines for primary prevention suggest consideration of lifetime risk for cardiovascular disease in addition to 10-year risk, but it is currently unknown how many U.S. adults would be identified as having low short-term but high lifetime predicted risk if stepwise stratification were employed.
Methods and Results
We included 6,329 CVD-free and nonpregnant individuals aged 20 to 79 years, representing approximately 156 million U.S. adults, from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003–2004 and 2005–2006. We assigned 10-year and lifetime predicted risks to stratify participants into three groups: low 10-year (<10%)/low lifetime (<39%) predicted risk, low 10-year (<10%)/high lifetime (≥39%) predicted risk, and high 10-year (≥10%) predicted risk or diagnosed diabetes. The majority of U.S. adults (56%, or 87 million individuals) are at low short-term but high lifetime predicted risk for cardiovascular disease. Twenty-six percent (41 million adults) are at low short-term and low lifetime predicted risk, and only 18% (28 million individuals) are at high short-term predicted risk. The addition of lifetime risk estimation to 10-year risk estimation identifies higher risk women and younger men in particular.
Whereas 82% of U.S. adults are at low short-term risk, two-thirds of this group, or 87 million people, are at high lifetime predicted risk for cardiovascular disease. These results provide support for use of a stepwise stratification system aimed at improving risk communication, and they provide a baseline for public health efforts aimed at increasing the proportion of Americans with low short-term and low lifetime risk for cardiovascular disease.
PMCID: PMC3058791  PMID: 20123666
24.  Burden of Cardiovascular Risk Factors, Subclinical Atherosclerosis, and Incident Cardiovascular Events Across Dimensions of Religiosity: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) 
Circulation  2010;121(5):659-666.
Religious involvement has been associated with improved health practices and outcomes; however, no ethnically-diverse community-based study has examined differences in cardiac risk factors, subclinical cardiovascular disease, and cardiovascular disease (CVD) events across levels of religiosity.
Methods and Results
We included 5474 White, Black, Hispanic, and Chinese participants who attended Exam 2 of the NHLBI’s MESA study. We compared cross-sectional differences in cardiac risk factors and subclinical CVD, and longitudinal CVD event rates across self-reported levels of religious participation, prayer/meditation, and spirituality. Multivariable-adjusted regression models were fitted to assess associations of measures of religiosity with risk factors, subclinical CVD, and CVD events. MESA participants (52.4% female, mean age 63) with greater levels of religious participation were more likely to be female and black. After adjustment for demographic covariates, participants who attended services daily, compared with never, were significantly more likely to be obese (adjusted odds ratio 1.57, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.12 – 1.72), but less likely to smoke (adjusted odds ratio 0.39, 95% CI 0.26 – 0.58). Results were similar for those with frequent prayer/meditation or high levels of spirituality. There were no consistent patterns of association observed between measures of religiosity and presence/extent of subclinical CVD at baseline or incident CVD events during longitudinal follow up over 4 years.
Our results do not confirm those of previous studies associating greater religiosity with overall better health risks and status, at least with regard to CVD. There was no reduction in risk for CVD events associated with greater religiosity.
PMCID: PMC2871276  PMID: 20100975
Religion; Cardiovascular diseases; Obesity
25.  Effects of respiratory motion on coronary wall MR imaging: A quantitative study of older adults 
The aim of the present study is to assess the effects of respiratory motion on the image quality of two-dimensional (2D), free-breathing, black-blood coronary wall (magnetic resonance) MR imaging.
Materials and methods
This study was compliance with the HIPPA. With the approval of the institution review board, 230 asymptomatic participants, including 164 male patients (72.9 ± 4.4 years) and 66 female patients (72.4 ± 5.1 years), were recruited. Written informed consent was obtained. A 2D navigator(NAV)-gated, black-blood coronary wall MR imaging sequence was run on the left main artery, the left anterior descending artery and the right coronary artery. The drift of the location of the NAV and scan efficiency were compared between good (scored 2 or 3) and poor images (scored 1). Age, body weight, body weight index (BMI), heart rate, length of the rest period of cardiac motion, diaphragm excursion and breathing frequency were compared using a t-test between the "successful" (having 2 or 3 good images) and "unsuccessful" cases (having 1 or 0 good images). A logistic regression model was applied to identify the contributors to good image quality.
The drift of the NAV location and the scan efficiency were higher in the 411 good images compared with the 279 poor images. Minimal drift of the NAV location and low body weight were identified as independent predictors of good images after using a logistic regression model to adjust for multiple physiological and technical factors.
The stability of respiratory motion significantly influences the image quality of 2D, free-breathing, black-blood coronary wall MR imaging.
PMCID: PMC3679310  PMID: 23378158
Coronary wall MR imaging; Respiratory motion; Effects

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