Carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT) is a marker of cardiovascular disease associated with incident stroke. We study whether IMT rate-of-change is associated with stroke.
Materials and Methods
We studied 5028 participants of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) composed of whites, Chinese, Hispanic and African-Americans free of cardiovascular disease. In this MESA IMT progression study, IMT rate-of-change (mm/year) was the difference in right common carotid artery (CCA) far-wall IMT (mm) divided by the interval between two ultrasound examinations (median interval of 32 months). CCA IMT was measured in a region free of plaque. Cardiovascular risk factors and baseline IMT were determined when IMT rate-of-change was measured. Multivariable Cox proportional hazards models generated Hazard risk Ratios (HR) with cardiovascular risk factors, ethnicity and education level/income as predictors.
There were 42 first time strokes seen during a mean follow-up of 3.22 years (median 3.0 years). Average age was 64.2 years, with 48% males. In multivariable models, age (HR: 1.05 per year), systolic blood pressure (HR 1.02 per mmHg), lower HDL cholesterol levels (HR: 0.96 per mg/dL) and IMT rate-of-change (HR 1.23 per 0.05 mm/year; 95% C.L. 1.02, 1.48) were significantly associated with incident stroke. The upper quartile of IMT rate-of-change had an HR of 2.18 (95% C.L.: 1.07, 4.46) compared to the lower three quartiles combined.
Common carotid artery IMT progression is associated with incident stroke in this cohort free of prevalent cardiovascular disease and atrial fibrillation at baseline.
Ultrasonography; Risk Factors; Carotid Arteries; Carotid Intima Media Thickness; stroke
Common carotid artery inter-adventitial diameter (IAD) and intima-media thickness (IMT) are measurable by ultrasound. IAD may be associated with left ventricular mass (LV mass) while IMT is a marker of subclinical atherosclerosis. It is not clear if IAD is associated with LV mass after accounting for IMT and traditional cardiovascular risk factors.
IAD and IMT were measured on participants of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) IMT progression study. A total of 5641 of the originally enrolled 6814 MESA participants were studied. LV mass was measured by magnetic resonance imaging. Multivariable linear regression was used with IAD as the outcome and adjustment for risk factors, as well as IMT and LV mass.
Traditional cardiovascular risk factors, height, weight and ethnicity were significantly associated with IAD. After adjustment for risk factors, a one mm difference in IMT was associated with a 1.802 mm (95% CI: 1.553, 2.051) higher mean IAD. A one gm difference in LV mass was associated with a 0.006 mm (95% CI: 0.005, 0.007) higher mean IAD. LV mass was independently associated with IAD after adjusting for cardiovascular risk factors and IMT. These associations were slightly different for men and women.
Inter-adventitial diameters are associated with left ventricular mass after adjusting for cardiovascular risk factors and IMT. IAD might serve as a surrogate for left ventricular mass and have predictive value for cardiovascular outcomes.
carotid arteries; ultrasonics; hypertrophy; magnetic resonance imaging; remodeling; risk factors; left ventricle
The JUPITER trial demonstrated that some patients with LDL-C <130 mg/dL and hsCRP ≥2 mg/L benefit from rosuvastatin, although absolute event rates were low. We sought to determine whether coronary artery calcium (CAC) may further risk stratify a JUPITER-eligible population, and to compare hsCRP vs. CAC for risk prediction in otherwise JUPITER-eligible participants.
A total of 950 MESA participants met all JUPITER entry criteria. We compared CHD and CVD event rates and multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios after stratifying by both presence and burden of CAC (0, 1–100, >100). We also calculated 5-year number needed to treat (NNT5) by applying the benefit observed in JUPITER to the observed event rates within each CAC strata.
Median follow-up was 5.8 years. Approximately 47% of the MESA JUPITER population had CAC=0, and CHD event rates in this group were <1 per 1000 person-years. Over 2/3 of all CHD events occurred in the 25% of participants with CAC >100 (20.2 per 1000 person-years). For CHD, the predicted NNT5 for CAC 0, 1–100, and >100 was 549, 94, and 24 respectively. For CVD, the NNT5 was 124, 54, and 19. Amongst otherwise JUPITER-eligible patients, presence of CAC was associated with 4.3-fold increased CHD (95% CI 2.0 – 9.3) and 2.6-fold increased CVD (95% CI 1.5–4.5), while hsCRP was not associated with either CHD or CVD after multivariable adjustment.
Within MESA, approximately half of JUPITER-eligible participants had CAC=0 and experienced an extremely low 6-year event rate. Nearly all events occurred in patients with CAC. CAC appears to further risk stratify JUPITER-eligible patients and may be used to target a subgroup of patients expected to derive the most, and the least, absolute benefit from statin treatment. Focusing treatment on the subset of individuals with measurable atherosclerosis may represent a more appropriate allocation of resources.
hsCRP; CAC; and Clinical Events
Common carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT), a measure of subclinical cardiovascular disease, changes during the cardiac cycle. The magnitude of this effect and its implications have not been well studied.
Methods and Results
Far-wall IMT measurements of the right common carotid artery were measured at end diastole and peak systole in 5633 individuals from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Multivariable regression models were generated with end-diastolic IMT, peak-systolic IMT, and change in IMT during the cardiac cycle as dependent variables and traditional cardiovascular risk factors as independent variables. The average age of our population was 61.9 (45 to 84) years. Average change in carotid IMT during the cardiac cycle was 0.041 mm (95% confidence interval: 0.039 to 0.042 mm), with a mean IMT of 0.68 mm. End-diastolic IMT and peak-systolic IMT were similarly associated with risk factors. In a fully adjusted model, change in carotid IMT during the cardiac cycle was associated with ethnicity and pulse pressure (P=0.001) and not age, sex, or other risk factors. Chinese and Hispanics had less of a change in IMT than did non-Hispanic whites. With peak-systolic IMT reference values used as normative data, 31.3% more individuals were classified as being in the upper quartile of IMT and at high risk for cardiovascular disease than would be expected when IMT is measured at end diastole.
Measurable differences in IMT are seen during the cardiac cycle. This affects the interpretation of IMT measurements used for cardiovascular risk assessment, given published normative data with IMT measured at peak systole.
Clinical Trial Registration
URL: www.ClinicalTrials.gov. Unique identifier: NCT00063440. (J Am Heart Assoc. 2012;1:e001420 doi: 10.1161/JAHA.112.001420.)
atherosclerosis; blood pressure; carotid arteries; diastole; epidemiology; risk factors; systole; ultrasonics
Carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) is a marker of cardiovascular disease derived from ultrasound images of the carotid artery. In most outcome studies, human readers identify and trace the key IMT interfaces. We evaluate an alternate approach using automated edge detection.
We study a subset of 5640 participants with an average age 61.7 years (48% men) of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis composed of whites, Chinese, Hispanic and African-Americans that are part of the MESA IMT progression study. Manual tracing IMT (mt_IMT) and edge-detected IMT (ed_IMT) measurements of the far wall of the common carotid artery (CCA) served as outcome variables for multivariable linear regression models using Framingham cardiovascular risk factors and ethnicity as independent predictors.
Measurements of mt_IMT was obtainable in 99.9% (5633/5640) and of ed_IMT in 98.9% (5579/5640) of individuals. Average ed_IMT was 0.19 mm larger than mt_IMT. Inter-reader systematic differences (bias) in IMT measurements were apparent for mt_IMT but not ed_IMT. Based on complete data on 5538 individuals, associations of IMT with risk factors were stronger (p < 0.0001) for mt_IMT (model r2: 19.5%) than ed_IMT (model r2: 18.5%).
We conclude that this edge-detection process generates IMT values equivalent to manually traced ones since it preserves key associations with cardiovascular risk factors. It also decreases inter-reader bias, potentially making it applicable for use in cardiovascular risk assessment.
Ultrasonography; Risk Factors; Carotid Arteries; Carotid Intima Media Thickness
High-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) levels are closely associated with abdominal obesity, metabolic syndrome, and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. The JUPITER trial has encouraged using hsCRP ≥2 mg/L to guide statin therapy; however the association of hsCRP to atherosclerosis, independent of obesity, remains unknown.
Methods and Results
We studied 6,760 participants from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Participants were stratified into 4 groups: non-obese/low hsCRP, non-obese/high hsCRP, obese/low hsCRP, and obese/high hsCRP. Using multivariable logistic and robust linear regression, we described the association with subclinical atherosclerosis, using coronary artery calcium (CAC) and carotid intima-media thickness (cIMT). Mean BMI was 28.3 ± 5.5 kg/m2, and median hsCRP was 1.9 mg/L (0.84 – 4.26). High hsCRP, in the absence of obesity, was not associated with CAC and was mildly associated with cIMT. Obesity was strongly associated with CAC and cIMT independent of hsCRP. When obesity and high hsCRP were both present, there was no evidence of multiplicative interaction. Similar associations were seen among 2,083 JUPITER-eligible individuals.
High hsCRP, as defined by JUPITER, was not associated with CAC and was mildly associated with cIMT in the absence of obesity. In contrast, obesity was associated with both measures of subclinical atherosclerosis independent of hsCRP status.
obesity; hsCRP; high sensitivity C-reactive protein; subclinical atherosclerosis; coronary artery calcium; carotid intima-media thickness
The role of atherosclerosis in the acute coronary syndromes (ACS) that occur in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has not been quantified in detail. We determined the extent to which ACS are associated with carotid atherosclerosis in RA.
We prospectively ascertained ACS, defined as myocardial infarction, unstable angina, cardiac arrest or death due to ischemic heart disease in an RA cohort. We measured carotid atherosclerosis using high-resolution ultrasound. We used Cox proportional hazards models to estimate the association between ACS and atherosclerosis, adjusting for demographics, CV risk factors, and RA manifestations.
We performed carotid ultrasound on 636 patients, whom we followed 3,402 person-years. During this time, 84 patients experienced 121 new or recurrent ACS, a rate of 3.5 ACS per 100 patient-years (95% CI 3.0, 4.3). Among the 599 patients without prior history of ACS, 66 incident ACS occurred over 3,085 person-years, an incidence of 2.1 ACS per 100 person-years (95% CI 1.7, 2.7). The incidence of new ACS per 100 patient-years among patients without plaque was 1.1 (0.6, 1.7); with unilateral plaque 2.5 (1.7, 3.8); and with bilateral plaque 4.3 (2.9, 6.3). Covariates associated with incident ACS independent of atherosclerosis included male sex, diabetes mellitus, and a cumulative glucocorticoid dose of ≥ 20 grams. In addition, hypertension and the number of swollen joints were associated with new or recurrent ACS.
Atherosclerosis is strongly associated with ACS in RA. Patients with carotid plaque, multiple CV risk factors, particularly diabetes or hypertension, many swollen joints, high cumulative dose of glucocorticoids or who are men, are at high risk of ACS.
Rheumatoid Arthritis; Cardiovascular Risk Factors; Atherosclerosis; Systemic Inflammation; Carotid Intima-media Thickness
Intima-media thickness (IMT) of the common and internal carotid arteries is an established surrogate for atherosclerosis and predicts risk of stroke and myocardial infarction. Often IMT is measured as the average of these two arteries, yet they are believed to result from separate biological mechanisms. The aim of this study was to conduct a family-based genome-wide association study (GWAS) for IMT to identify polymorphisms influencing IMT and to determine if distinct carotid artery segments are influenced by different genetic components.
Methods and Results
IMT for the common and internal carotid arteries was determined through B-mode ultrasound in 772 Mexican Americans from the San Antonio Family Heart Study. A GWAS utilizing 931,219 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) was undertaken with six internal and common carotid artery IMT phenotypes utilizing an additive measured genotype model. The most robust association detected was for two SNPs (rs16983261, rs6113474, p=1.60e−7) in complete linkage disequilibrium on chromosome 20p11 for the internal carotid artery near wall, next to the gene PAX1. We also replicated previously reported GWAS regions on chromosomes 19q13 and 7q22. We found no overlapping associations between internal and common carotid artery phenotypes at p<5.0e0−6. The genetic correlation between the two carotid IMT arterial segments was 0.51.
This study represents the first large scale GWAS of carotid IMT in a non-European population and identified several novel loci. We do not detect any shared GWAS signals between common and internal carotid arterial segments but the moderate genetic correlation implies both common and unique genetic components.
intima-media thickness; carotid artery; GWAS; Hispanics
This study investigated the long-term effects of intensive diabetic treatment on the progression of atherosclerosis, measured as common carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT).
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
A total of 1,116 participants (52% men) in the Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications (EDIC) trial, a long-term follow-up of the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT), had carotid IMT measurements at EDIC years 1, 6, and 12. Mean age was 46 years, with diabetes duration of 24.5 years at EDIC year 12. Differences in IMT progression between DCCT intensive and conventional treatment groups were examined, controlling for clinical characteristics, IMT reader, and imaging device.
Common carotid IMT progression from EDIC years 1 to 6 was 0.019 mm less in intensive than in conventional (P < 0.0001), and from years 1 to 12 was 0.014 mm less (P = 0.048); but change from years 6 to 12 was similar (intensive − conventional = 0.005 mm, P = 0.379). Mean A1C levels during DCCT and DCCT/EDIC were strongly associated with progression of IMT, explaining most of the differences in IMT progression between DCCT treatment groups. Albuminuria, older age, male sex, smoking, and higher systolic blood pressure were significant predictors of IMT progression.
Intensive treatment slowed IMT progression for 6 years after the end of DCCT but did not affect IMT progression thereafter (6–12 years). A beneficial effect of prior intensive treatment was still evident 13 years after DCCT ended. These differences were attenuated but not negated after adjusting for blood pressure. These results support the early initiation and continued maintenance of intensive diabetes management in type 1 diabetes to retard atherosclerosis.
We hypothesized that individuals with low 10-year but high lifetime cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk would have a greater burden of subclinical atherosclerosis than those with low 10-year but low lifetime risk.
Methods and Results
We included 2988 individuals age ≤50 at exam year 15 from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study and 1076 individuals age ≤50 at study entry from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). The 10-year risk and lifetime risk for CVD were estimated for each participant, permitting stratification into three groups: low 10-year (<10%)/low lifetime (<39%) risk, low 10-year (<10%)/high lifetime risk (≥39%), and high 10-year risk (≥10%) or diagnosed diabetes. Baseline levels and change in levels of subclinical atherosclerosis (coronary artery calcium [CAC] or carotid intima-media thickness [IMT]) were compared across risk strata. Among participants with low 10-year risk (91% of all participants) in CARDIA, those with a high lifetime risk compared to low lifetime risk had significantly greater common (0.83 vs 0.80 mm in men; 0.79 vs 0.75 mm in women) and internal (0.85 vs 0.80 mm; 0.80 vs 0.76 mm) carotid IMT, higher CAC prevalence (16.6 vs 9.8%; 7.1 vs 2.3%), and significantly greater incidence of CAC progression (22.3 vs 15.4%; 8.7 vs 5.3%). Similar results were observed in MESA.
Individuals with low 10-year but high lifetime risk have a greater subclinical disease burden and greater incidence of atherosclerotic progression compared to individuals with low 10-year and low lifetime risk, even at younger ages.
epidemiology; risk estimation; prevention
Coronary artery calcium (CAC) and carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) are noninvasive measures of atherosclerosis that consensus panels have recommended as possible additions to risk factor assessment for predicting the probability of cardiovascular disease (CVD) occurrence.
To assess whether maximum carotid IMT or CAC (Agatston Score) is the better predictor of incident CVD.
Design, Setting, Patients
Prospective cohort study of 45–84 year-olds initially free of CVD (n = 6,698) in four ethnic groups, with standardized carotid IMT and CAC measures at baseline, in six field centers of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA).
Main Outcome Measure(s)
Incident CVD events (coronary heart disease, stroke, and fatal CVD) over a maximum of 5.3 years of follow-up.
There were 222 CVD events during follow-up. CAC was associated more strongly than carotid IMT with risk of incident CVD. After adjustment for each other and traditional CVD risk factors, the hazard of CVD increased 2.1-fold (95% CI 1.8–2.5) for each standard deviation greater level of log-transformed CAC, versus 1.3-fold (95% CI 1.1–1.4) for each standard deviation greater maximum IMT. For coronary heart disease, the hazard ratios per standard deviation increment were 2.5-fold (95% CI 2.1–3.1) for CAC and 1.2-fold (95% CI 1.0–1.4) for IMT. An ROC analysis also suggested that CAC predicted incident CVD better than IMT did.
Although whether and how to clinically use bio-imaging tests of subclinical atherosclerosis remains a topic of debate, this study found that CAC predicts subsequent CVD events better than does carotid IMT.
Few population studies have evaluated the associations of both coronary artery calcium (CAC) and carotid ultrasound with cardiovascular events, especially in adults > 70 years of age. At the Pittsburgh Field Center of the Cardiovascular Health Study, 559 men and women, mean age 80.2 (SD 4.1) years had CAC score assessed by electron beam computerized tomography scan and common and internal carotid intimal-medial wall thickness (CCA-IMT and ICA-IMT) by carotid ultrasound between 1998−2000 and were followed for total and incident cardiovascular disease events through June 2003. Crude rates and hazard ratios for total and incident events were examined with and without adjustment for cardiovascular risk factors. After 5 years, there were 127 cardiovascular disease events, 48 myocardial infarctions or cardiovascular disease deaths and 28 strokes or stroke deaths. Total and incident cardiovascular disease event rates were higher in each quartile of CAC and CCA-IMT, but not ICA-IMT. For total cardiovascular disease, the adjusted hazard ratio for the 4th vs. 1st quartile of CAC was 2.1 (95% CI = 1.2−3.9) and for CCA-IMT was 2.3 (95% CI = 1.3−4.1). The CCA-IMT was more strongly related to stroke risk than was CAC, though CAC was also an important predictor of stroke. No significant sex differences were found, though relative risks appeared to be stronger in women, especially for stroke. In conclusion, in these adults > 70 years of age, CAC and CCA-IMT had similar hazard ratios for total cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease. The CCA-IMT was more strongly related to stroke than was CAC, but CAC was also a predictor of stroke.
calcium; cardiovascular diseases; coronary disease; prognosis
Surrogate measures for cardiovascular disease events have the potential to increase greatly the efficiency of clinical trials. A leading candidate for such a surrogate is the progression of intima-media thickness (IMT) of the carotid artery; much experience has been gained with this endpoint in trials of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (statins).
Methods and Results
We examine two separate systems of criteria that have been proposed to define surrogate endpoints, based on clinical and statistical arguments. We use published results and a formal meta-analysis to evaluate whether progression of carotid IMT meets these criteria for HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (statins).
IMT meets clinical-based criteria to serve as a surrogate endpoint for cardiovascular events in statin trials, based on relative efficiency, linkage to endpoints, and congruency of effects. Results from a meta-analysis and post-trial follow-up from a single published study suggest that IMT meets established statistical criteria by accounting for intervention effects in regression models.
Carotid IMT progression meets accepted definitions of a surrogate for cardiovascular disease endpoints in statin trials. This does not, however, establish that it may serve universally as a surrogate marker in trials of other agents.
Arteriosclerosis; carotid arteries; drugs; meta-analysis; statistics; ultrasonics
The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis and Air Pollution (MESA Air) was initiated in 2004 to investigate the relation between individual-level estimates of long-term air pollution exposure and the progression of subclinical atherosclerosis and the incidence of cardiovascular disease (CVD). MESA Air builds on a multicenter, community-based US study of CVD, supplementing that study with additional participants, outcome measurements, and state-of-the-art air pollution exposure assessments of fine particulate matter, oxides of nitrogen, and black carbon. More than 7,000 participants aged 45–84 years are being followed for over 10 years for the identification and characterization of CVD events, including acute myocardial infarction and other coronary artery disease, stroke, peripheral artery disease, and congestive heart failure; cardiac procedures; and mortality. Subcohorts undergo baseline and follow-up measurements of coronary artery calcium using computed tomography and carotid artery intima-medial wall thickness using ultrasonography. This cohort provides vast exposure heterogeneity in ranges currently experienced and permitted in most developed nations, and the air monitoring and modeling methods employed will provide individual estimates of exposure that incorporate residence-specific infiltration characteristics and participant-specific time-activity patterns. The overarching study aim is to understand and reduce uncertainty in health effect estimation regarding long-term exposure to air pollution and CVD.
air pollution; atherosclerosis; cardiovascular diseases; environmental exposure; epidemiologic methods; particulate matter
Coronary heart disease (CHD) is the major cause of death in the United States. Coronary artery calcification (CAC) scores are independent predictors of CHD. African Americans (AA) have higher rates of CHD but are less well-studied in genomic studies. We assembled the largest AA data resource currently available with measured CAC to identify associated genetic variants.
We analyzed log transformed CAC quantity (ln(CAC + 1)), for association with ~2.5 million single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and performed an inverse-variance weighted meta-analysis on results for 5,823 AA from 8 studies. Heritability was calculated using family studies. The most significant SNPs among AAs were evaluated in European Ancestry (EA) CAC data; conversely, the significance of published SNPs for CAC/CHD in EA was queried within our AA meta-analysis.
Heritability of CAC was lower in AA (~30%) than previously reported for EA (~50%). No SNP reached genome wide significance (p < 5E-08). Of 67 SNPs with p < 1E-05 in AA there was no evidence of association in EA CAC data. Four SNPs in regions previously implicated in CAC/CHD (at 9p21 and PHACTR1) in EA reached nominal significance for CAC in AA, with concordant direction. Among AA, rs16905644 (p = 4.08E-05) had the strongest association in the 9p21 region.
While we observed substantial heritability for CAC in AA, we failed to identify loci for CAC at genome-wide significant levels despite having adequate power to detect alleles with moderate to large effects. Although suggestive signals in AA were apparent at 9p21 and additional CAC and CAD EA loci, overall the data suggest that even larger samples and an ethnic specific focus will be required for GWAS discoveries for CAC in AA populations.
Atherosclerosis; Coronary artery calcium; Genetics; Meta-analysis; African-American
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.
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.
Carotid Intimal Medial Thickness; Risk Factors; Carotid Ultrasound