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1.  Ethnicity and Sex Modify the Association of Serum C-Reactive Protein with Microalbuminuria 
Ethnicity & disease  2008;18(3):324-329.
To study the association between serum C-reactive protein (CRP) and urinary albumin excretion in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis and to assess whether the association is modified by ethnicity, sex, or systolic blood pressure.
This was a cross-sectional study of 6675 participants who were free from macro albuminuria and clinical cardiovascular disease (mean age 62.1 years, 53% female; 39% White, 27% African American, 22% Hispanic, and 12% Chinese). Urinary albumin excretion was measured by spot urine albumin-to-creatinine ratio (ACR). Effect modifications were tested after adjusting for age, diabetes, body mass index, smoking, use of angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor or angiotensin-receptor blocker, other antihypertensive drugs, estrogens, statins, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
The association between CRP and ACR was modified by ethnicity (P=.01) and sex (P<.001), but not by systolic blood pressure. After multivariate adjustment, the association remained in Chinese, African American, and Hispanic men and African American women (P<.02 for African American men, and P<.04 for the other subgroups).
The association between CRP and ACR was modified by ethnicity and sex; it was stronger in non-White men and African American women. These interactions have not been reported before, and future studies should consider them.
PMCID: PMC4089959  PMID: 18785447
Albuminuria; C-Reactive Protein; Ethnicity; Gender
2.  Genetic Ancestry and the Relationship of Cigarette Smoking to Lung Function and Percent Emphysema in Four Race/Ethnic Groups: a Cross-sectional Study 
Thorax  2013;68(7):634-642.
Cigarette smoking is the major cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and emphysema. Recent studies suggest that susceptibility to cigarette smoke may vary by race/ethnicity; however, they were generally small and relied on self-reported race/ethnicity.
To test the hypothesis that relationships of smoking to lung function and percent emphysema differ by genetic ancestry and self-reported race/ethnicity among Whites, African-Americans, Hispanics and Chinese-Americans.
Cross-sectional population-based study of adults age 45-84 years in the United States
Principal components of genetic ancestry and continental ancestry estimated from one-million genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphisms. Pack-years calculated as years smoking cigarettes-per-day/20. Spirometry measured for 3,344 and percent emphysema on computed tomography for 8,224 participants.
The prevalence of ever-smoking was: Whites, 57.6%; African-Americans, 56.4%; Hispanics, 46.7%; and Chinese-Americans, 26.8%. Every 10 pack-years was associated with −0.73% (95% CI −0.90%, −0.56%) decrement in the forced expiratory volume in one second to forced vital capacity (FEV1/FVC) and a 0.23% (95% CI 0.08%, 0.38%) increase in percent emphysema. There was no evidence that relationships of pack-years to the FEV1/FVC, airflow obstruction and percent emphysema varied by genetic ancestry (all p>0.10), self-reported race/ethnicity (all p>0.10) or, among African-Americans, African ancestry. There were small differences in relationships of pack-years to the FEV1 among male Chinese-Americans and to the FEV1/FVC with African and Native American ancestry among male Hispanics only.
In this large cohort, there was little-to-no evidence that the associations of smoking to lung function and percent emphysema differed by genetic ancestry or self-reported race/ethnicity.
PMCID: PMC4020409  PMID: 23585509
cigarette smoke; genetic ancestry; lung function; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; COPD; emphysema; FVC; Forced Vital Capacity; FEV1; Forced Expiratory Volume in 1 second
3.  Arterial Wave Reflections and Incident Cardiovascular Events and Heart Failure: The Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Experimental and physiologic data mechanistically implicate wave reflections in the pathogenesis of left ventricular failure and cardiovascular disease, but their association with these outcomes in the general population is unclear.
To assess the relationship between central pressure profiles and incident cardiovascular events.
Aortic pressure waveforms were derived from a generalized transfer function applied to the radial pressure waveform recorded non-invasively from 5,960 participants in the Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). The central pressure waveform was separated into forward and reflected waves using a physiologic flow waveform. Reflection magnitude (RM=[reflected/forward wave amplitude] ×100), augmentation index (AIx=[second/first systolic peak] ×100) and pulse pressure amplification (PPA=[radial/aortic pulse pressure] ×100) were assessed as predictors of cardiovascular events (CVE) and congestive heart failure (CHF) during median 7.61 years of follow-up.
After adjustment for established risk factors, aortic AIx independently predicted hard CVE (HR per 10%-increase=1.08; 95%CI=1.01-1.14; P=0.016), whereas PPA independently predicted all CVE (HR per 10%-increase=0.82; 95%CI=0.70-0.96; P=0.012). RM was independently predictive of all CVE (hazard ratio [HR] per 10%-increase=1.34; 95%CI=1.08-1.67; P=0.009), hard CVE (HR per 10%-increase=1.46; 95%CI=1.12-1.90; P=0.006) and strongly predictive of new-onset CHF (HR per 10%-increase=2.69; 95%CI=1.79-4.04; P<0.0001), comparing favorably to other risk factors for CHF as judged by various measures of model performance, reclassification and discrimination. In a fully-adjusted model, compared to non-hypertensive subjects with low RM, the HR for hypertensive subjects with low RM, non-hypertensive subjects with high RM and hypertensive subjects with high RM were 1.81 (95%CI=0.85-3.86), 2.16 (95%CI=1.07-5.01) and 3.98 (95%CI=1.96-8.05), respectively.
Arterial wave reflections represent a novel strong risk factor for CHF in the general population.
PMCID: PMC4065497  PMID: 23103044
wave reflections; cardiovascular risk; heart failure. arterial hemodynamics; left ventricular afterload
4.  A comparison of outcomes with coronary artery calcium scanning in Unselected Populations - The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) and Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study (HNR) 
The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) and the Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study (HNR)) differed in regards to informing physicians and patients of the results of their subclinical atherosclerosis.
This study investigates whether the association of coronary artery calcium (CAC) with incident non-fatal and fatal cardiovascular (CVD) events is different among these two large, population-based observational studies.
All Caucasian subjects aged 45–75 years, free of baseline cardiovascular disease were included (n=2232 in MESA, n=3119 HNR participants). We studied the association between CAC and event rates at 5 years, including hard cardiac events (MI, cardiac death, resuscitated cardiac arrest), and separately added revascularizations, and strokes (fatal and non-fatal) to determine adjusted hazard ratios (HR).
Both cohorts demonstrated very low CHD (including revascularization) rates with zero calcium (1.13 and 1.16% over 5 years in MESA and HNR respectively) and increasing significantly in both groups with CAC 100–399 (6.71 and 4.52% in MESA and HNR) and CAC >400 (12.5 and 13.54% in MESA and HNR respectively) and demonstrating strong independent predictive values for scores of 100–399 and >400, despite multivariable adjustment for risk factors. Risk factor adjusted five year revascularization rates were nearly identical for HNR and MESA, and generally low for both studies (1.4% [45/3119] for HNR and 1.9% [43/2232] for MESA) over 5 years.
Across two culturally diverse populations, CAC >400 is a strong predictor of events. High CAC did not determininistically result in revascularization and knowledge of CAC did not increase revascularizations.
PMCID: PMC3732186  PMID: 23849491
coronary artery calcification; subclinical atherosclerosis; Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA); Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study (HNR)
5.  Comparison of Factors Associated with Carotid Intima-Media Thickness in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) and the Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study (HNR) 
The measurement of carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) is a valid method to quantify levels of atherosclerosis. The present study was conducted to compare the strengths of associations between CIMT and cardiovascular risk factors in two different populations.
The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) and the Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study (HNR) are two population-based prospective cohort studies of subclinical cardiovascular disease. All Caucasian subjects aged 45 to 75 years from these cohorts who were free of baseline cardiovascular disease (n = 2,820 in HNR, n = 2,270 in MESA) were combined. CIMT images were obtained using B-mode sonography at the right and left common carotid artery and measured 1 cm starting from the bulb.
In both studies, age, male sex, and systolic blood pressure showed the strongest association (P < .0001 for each) for a higher CIMT. The mean of mean far wall CIMT was slightly higher in MESA participants (0.71 vs 0.67 mm). Almost all significant variables were consistent between the two cohorts in both magnitude of association with CIMT and statistical significance, including age, sex, smoking, diabetes, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure. For example, the association with systolic blood pressure was (ΔSD = 0.011; 95% confidence interval, 0.0009 to 0.014) per mm Hg in MESA and (ΔSD = 0.010; 95% confidence interval, 0.005 to 0.021) per mm Hg in HNR. This consistency persisted throughout the traditional (Framingham) risk factors.
A comparison of the associations between traditional cardiovascular risk factors and CIMT across two culturally diverse populations showed remarkable consistency.
PMCID: PMC3694173  PMID: 23611058
Carotid intima-media thickness; Subclinical atherosclerosis; Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis; MESA; Heinz Nixdorf Recall Study; HNR
6.  Racial Variations in the Prevalence of Refractive Errors in the United States: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
American journal of ophthalmology  2013;155(6):1129-1138.e1.
To describe racial variations in the prevalence of refractive errors among adult white, Chinese, Hispanic, and black subjects in the United States.
Cross-sectional data from a prospective cohort study—the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA).
A total of 6000 adults aged 45 to 84 years living in the United States participated in the study. Refractive error was assessed, without cycloplegia, in both eyes of all participants using an autorefractor. After excluding eyes with cataract, cataract surgery, or previous refractive surgery, the eye with the larger absolute spherical equivalent (SE) value for each participant was used to classify refractive error. Any myopia was defined as SE of −1.0 diopters (D) or less; high myopia was defined as SE of −5.0 D or less; any hyperopia was defined as SE of +1.0 D or more; clinically significant hyperopia was defined as SE of +3.0 D or more. Astigmatism was defined as a cylinder value of +1.0 D or more.
After excluding 508 participants with cataracts in both eyes, 838 participants with cataract surgery, 90 participants with laser refractive surgery, and 134 participants who refused to remove their contact lenses for the refraction measurement, 4430 adults with refractive error assessment in at least 1 eye contributed to the analysis. The prevalence of myopia among MESA participants was 25.1%, with lowest rates in Hispanic participants (14.2%), followed by black (21.5%) and white participants (31.0%), and highest rates in Chinese participants (37.2%). The overall rates of high myopia and astigmatism were 4.6% and 45.0%, respectively, with Chinese subjects also having the highest rates of high myopia (11.8%) and astigmatism (53.4%). The overall prevalence of any hyperopia was 38.2% and clinically significant hyperopia was 6.1%, with Hispanic participants having the highest rates of hyperopia (50.2%) and clinically significant hyperopia (8.8%). In multivariate analyses adjusting for age, sex, race, and study site, higher education level, being employed, and being taller were associated with a higher prevalence of myopia. In contrast, lower educational level and being shorter were associated with a higher prevalence of hyperopia.
Myopia and astigmatism were most prevalent in the Chinese population, with Chinese subjects having 3 times the prevalence of myopia as Hispanic subjects. Hyperopia was most common in Hispanic subjects. These findings provide further insights into variations in refractive errors among different racial groups and have important implications for the eye care services in the United States.
PMCID: PMC3759975  PMID: 23453694
7.  Pentraxin-3 and the right ventricle: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis–Right Ventricle Study 
Pulmonary Circulation  2014;4(2):250-259.
Pentraxin-3 (PTX3) is a protein mediator of innate immunity that is elevated in the setting of left heart disease and pulmonary arterial hypertension. The relationship between PTX3 and right ventricular (RV) structure and function is not known. We included men and women with magnetic resonance imaging assessment of RV structure and function and measurement of PTX3 from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, a study of individuals free of clinical cardiovascular disease. Multivariable linear regression estimated associations between PTX3 protein levels and RV measures after adjusting for demographic characteristics, anthropometrics, smoking status, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and corresponding left ventricular (LV) parameters. Instrumental variable analysis exploiting Mendelian randomization was attempted using two-stage least squares regression. The study sample included 1,779 participants with available PTX3 levels, RV measures, and all covariables. Mean PTX3 level was 2.1 ng/mL. Higher PTX3 was independently associated with greater RV mass and larger RV end-diastolic volume with and without adjustment for the corresponding LV parameters or C-reactive protein (all P < .05). There was no association between PTX3 and RV ejection fraction or stroke volume. Single-nucleotide polymorphisms were not associated with PTX3 protein levels or RV measures after accounting for race. Instrumental variable analysis could not be reliably performed. Higher PTX3 protein levels were associated with greater RV mass and larger RV end-diastolic volume. These associations were independent of common cardiovascular risk factors and LV morphologic changes. Inflammation is associated with differences in the pulmonary circulation-RV axis in adults without clinical cardiovascular disease.
PMCID: PMC4070771
pulmonary hypertension; heart failure; inflammation; right ventricle; Mendelian randomization
8.  Methods for Estimation of Disparities in Medication Use in an Observational Cohort Study: Results from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Evaluating disparities in health care is an important aspect of understanding differences in disease risk. The purpose of this study is to describe methodology for estimating such disparities, with application to a large multi-ethnic cohort study.
The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) includes 6814 participants aged 45–84 years free of cardiovascular disease. Prevalence ratio (PR) regression was used to model baseline lipid lowering medication (LLM) or anti-hypertensive medication use at baseline as a function of gender, race, risk factors and estimated pre-treatment biomarker values.
Hispanics and African-Americans had lower prevalence of medication use than non-Hispanic whites, even at the same risk factor profile. This became non-significant after adjustment for socio-economic status. Although gender did not influence the prevalence of LLM use (PR=1.09, 95% CI 0.95 to 1.25), there were differences in the association of diabetes and HDL with LLM use by gender. Men were significantly less likely to be on anti-hypertensive medications than women (PR=0.86, 95% CI 0.80 to 0.92, p<0.001) and this was not explained by risk factors or socioeconomic status. Lack of health insurance strongly influenced medication use, controlling for risk factors and other markers of socio-economic status.
Disparities exist in the treatment of cholesterol and hypertension. Hispanics and African Americans had less use of LLM, men had less use of anti-hypertensives. Risk factors have differential associations with medication use depending on gender. Methods described in this paper can provide improved disparity estimation in observational cohort studies.
PMCID: PMC3652567  PMID: 23382107
disparities; medication; statistical methods; statins; anti-hypertensives
9.  Comparative Efficacy and Safety of Four Randomized Regimens to Treat Early Pseudomonas aeruginosa Infection in Children with Cystic Fibrosis 
While therapy for early Pa acquisition has been shown to be efficacious, the best regimen to achieve airway clearance has not been delineated.
To investigate the efficacy and safety of four anti-pseudomonal treatments in children with cystic fibrosis (CF) with recently acquired Pa.
Design, Setting, and Patients
In a multicenter trial in the US, 304 children with CF ages 1–12 years within 6 months of Pa detection were randomized to one of four antibiotic regimens for an 18-month period (six 12-week quarters) between December 2004 and June 2009. Participants randomized to cycled therapy received tobramycin inhalation solution (300 mg BID) for 28 days, with oral ciprofloxacin (15–20 mg/kg BID) or oral placebo for 14 days every quarter, while participants randomized to culture-based therapy received the same treatments only during quarters with positive Pa cultures.
Main outcome measures
The primary endpoints were time to pulmonary exacerbation requiring intravenous antibiotics and proportion of Pa-positive cultures.
The intention-to-treat analysis included 304 participants. There was no interaction between treatments. There were no statistically significant differences in exacerbation rates between cycled and culture-based groups (hazard ratio [HR], 0.95, 95%CI, 0.54–1.66) or ciprofloxacin and placebo (HR 1.45, 95%CI, 0.82–2.54). The ORs of Pa positive culture comparing cycled vs. culture-based group were 0.78 (95%CI, 0.49–1.23) and OR 1.10; 95%CI, 0.71–1.71) comparing ciprofloxacin vs. placebo. Adverse events were similar across groups.
No difference in rate of exacerbation or prevalence of Pa positivity was detected between cycled and culture-based therapies. Adding ciprofloxacin produced no benefits.
PMCID: PMC3991697  PMID: 21893650
Antimicrobials; Tobramycin Inhalation Solution; Ciprofloxacin; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; Mucoviscidosis; Clinical trial; Cystic Fibrosis
10.  Amino terminal pro–B-type natriuretic peptide, secondary stroke prevention, and choice of antithrombotic therapy 
Background and Purpose
Because of its association with atrial fibrillation and heart failure, we hypothesized that amino terminal pro–B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) would identify a subgroup of patients from the Warfarin–Aspirin Recurrent Stroke Study (WARSS), diagnosed with inferred non-cardioembolic ischemic strokes, where anticoagulation would be more effective than antiplatelet agents in reducing risk of subsequent events.
NT-proBNP was measured in stored serum collected at baseline from participants enrolled in WARSS, a previously reported randomized trial. Relative effectiveness of warfarin and aspirin in preventing recurrent ischemic stroke or death over two years was compared based on NT-proBNP concentrations.
About 95% of 1028 patients with assays had NT-proBNP below 750 pg/mL, and among them, no evidence for treatment effect modification was evident. For 49 patients with NT-proBNP >750 pg/mL, the two-year rate of events per 100 person-years was 45.9 for the aspirin group and 16.6 for the warfarin group, while for 979 patients with NT-proBNP ≤750 pg/mL, rates were similar for both treatments. For those with NT-proBNP >750 pg/mL, the hazard ratio was 0.30 (95% confidence interval 0.12 to 0.84, p-value=0.021) significantly favoring warfarin over aspirin. A formal test for interaction of NT-proBNP with treatment was significant (p-value=0.01).
For secondary stroke prevention, elevated NT-proBNP concentrations may identify a subgroup of ischemic stroke patients without known atrial fibrillation, about 5% based on the current study, who may benefit more from anticoagulants than antiplatelet agents.
Clinical Trial Registration
This trial was not registered because enrollment began prior to 2005.
PMCID: PMC3583375  PMID: 23339958
aspirin; warfarin; NT-proBNP; secondary stroke prevention
11.  Effects of respiratory and non-respiratory factors on disability among older adults with airway obstruction: The Cardiovascular Health Study 
COPD  2013;10(5):588-596.
High rates of disability associated with chronic airway obstruction may be caused by impaired pulmonary function, pulmonary symptoms, other chronic diseases, or systemic inflammation.
We analyzed data from the Cardiovascular Health Study, a longitudinal cohort of 5888 older adults. Categories of lung function (normal; restricted; borderline, mild-moderate, and severe obstruction) were delineated by baseline spirometry (without bronchodilator). Disability-free years were calculated as total years alive and without self-report of difficulty performing ≥1 Instrumental Activities of Daily Living over 6 years of follow-up. Using linear regression, we compared disability-free years by lung disease category, adjusting for demographic factors, body mass index, smoking, cognition, and other chronic comorbidities. Among participants with airflow obstruction, we examined the association of respiratory factors (FEV1 and dyspnea) and non-respiratory factors (ischemic heart disease, congestive heart failure, diabetes, muscle weakness, osteoporosis, depression and cognitive impairment) on disability-free years.
The average disability free years were 4.0 out of a possible 6 years. Severe obstruction was associated with 1 fewer disability-free year compared to normal spirometry in the adjusted model. For the 1,048 participants with airway obstruction, both respiratory factors (FEV1 and dyspnea) and non-respiratory factors (heart disease, coronary artery disease, diabetes, depression, osteoporosis, cognitive function, and weakness) were associated with decreased disability-free years.
Severe obstruction is associated with greater disability compared to patients with normal spirometery. Both respiratory and non-respiratory factors contribute to disability in older adults with abnormal spirometry.
PMCID: PMC3903127  PMID: 23819728
Chronic airflow obstruction; instrumental activities of daily living; disability; disablement process
12.  Von Willebrand Factor and the Right Ventricle (The MESA-Right Ventricle Study) 
The American journal of cardiology  2012;110(12):1846-1851.
Elevation in plasma activity of von Willebrand Factor (vWF) reflects endothelial dysfunction and predicts death in pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Higher vWF activity is also associated with lower right ventricular (RV) ejection fraction in PAH. Little is known about the relationship between vWF and RV structure and function in adults without cardiovascular disease. In the current investigation, we included 1,976 participants with MRI assessment of RV structure and function and measurement of vWF activity from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Multivariable linear regression was used to estimate the associations between vWF activity and measures of RV structure and function after adjusting for demographics, anthropometrics, smoking, diabetes mellitus, hypertension and the corresponding left ventricular (LV) parameter. The average vWF activity was 140.7 ± 57.2%. Elevated vWF activity was independently associated with lower RV mass, RV end-diastolic volume and RV stroke volume in models with and without adjustment for the corresponding LV parameter (all p < 0.05). There was no association observed between vWF activity and RV ejection fraction. In conclusion, higher vWF activity is associated with lower RV mass, RV end-diastolic volume and RV stroke volume. These associations are independent of common cardiovascular risk factors and LV morphologic changes.
PMCID: PMC3696516  PMID: 22995970
Cardiovascular Imaging; Biomarkers; Pulmonary Hypertension; Right Ventricle
13.  N-terminal pro-B-type Natriuretic Peptide is Associated with Sudden Cardiac Death Risk: the Cardiovascular Health Study 
Sudden cardiac death (SCD), the cause of 250,000-450,000 deaths per year, is a major public health problem. The majority of those affected do not have a prior cardiovascular diagnosis. Elevated B-type natriuretic peptide levels have been associated with the risk of heart failure and mortality, as well as sudden death in women.
To examine the relationship between N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) and SCD in the Cardiovascular Health Study population.
The risk of SCD associated with baseline NT-proBNP was examined in 5447 participants. Covariate-adjusted Cox model regressions were used to estimate the hazard ratios of developing SCD as a function of baseline NT-proBNP
Over a median follow-up of 12.5 years (maximum of 16), there were 289 cases of SCD. Higher NT-proBNP levels were strongly associated with SCD, with an unadjusted hazard ratio of 4.2 (95% CI: 2.9, 6.1, p<0.001) in the highest quintile compared to the lowest. NT-proBNP remained associated with SCD even after adjustment for numerous clinical characteristics and risk-factors (age, sex, race, and other associated conditions), with an adjusted hazard ratio for the 5th versus the 1st quintile of 2.5 (95% CI: 1.6, 3.8, p<0.001).
NT-proBNP provides information regarding the risk of sudden cardiac death in a community based population of older adults, beyond other traditional risk factors. This biomarker may ultimately prove useful in targeting the population at risk with aggressive medical management of comorbid conditions.
PMCID: PMC3826546  PMID: 21044699
Sudden cardiac death; B-type natriuretic peptide; BNP; NT-proBNP
14.  Prospective Study of Particulate Air Pollution Exposures, Subclinical Atherosclerosis, and Clinical Cardiovascular Disease 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2012;176(9):825-837.
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.
PMCID: PMC3571256  PMID: 23043127
air pollution; atherosclerosis; cardiovascular diseases; environmental exposure; epidemiologic methods; particulate matter
15.  The impact of height on the risk of atrial fibrillation: the Cardiovascular Health Study 
European Heart Journal  2012;33(21):2709-2717.
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common sustained arrhythmia. Increased body size has been associated with AF, but the relationship is not well understood. In this study, we examined the effect of increased height on the risk of AF and explore potential mediators and implications for clinical practice.
Methods and results
We examined data from 5860 individuals taking part in the Cardiovascular Health Study, a cohort study of older US adults followed for a median of 13.6 (women) and 10.3 years (men). Multivariate linear models and age-stratified Cox proportional hazards and risk models were used, with focus on the effect of height on both prevalent and incident AF. Among 684 (22.6%) and 568 (27.1%) incident cases in women and men, respectively, greater height was significantly associated with AF risk [hazard ratio (HR)women per 10 cm 1.32, confidence interval (CI) 1.16–1.50, P < 0.0001; HRmen per 10 cm 1.26, CI 1.11–1.44, P < 0.0001]. The association was such that the incremental risk from sex was completely attenuated by the inclusion of height (for men, HR 1.48, CI 1.32–1.65, without height, and HR 0.94, CI 0.85–1.20, with height included). Inclusion of height in the Framingham model for incident AF improved discrimination. In sequential models, however, we found minimal attenuation of the risk estimates for AF with adjustment for left ventricular (LV) mass and left atrial (LA) dimension. The associations of LA and LV size measurements with AF risk were weakened when indexed to height.
Independent from sex, increased height is significantly associated with the risk of AF.
PMCID: PMC3681530  PMID: 22977225
Atrial fibrillation; Cardiovascular risk factors; Echocardiography; Risk prediction
16.  Progression of coronary artery atherosclerosis in rheumatoid arthritis: comparison with participants from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2013;15(5):R134.
In cross-sectional studies, patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have higher coronary artery calcium (CAC) than controls. However, their rate of progression of CAC and the predictors of CAC progression have heretofore remained unknown.
Incidence and progression of CAC were compared in 155 patients with RA and 835 control participants. The association of demographic characteristics, traditional cardiovascular risk factors, RA disease characteristics and selected inflammatory markers with incidence and progression of CAC were evaluated.
The incidence rate of newly detected CAC was 8.2/100 person-years in RA and 7.3/100 person-years in non-RA control subjects [IRR 1.1 (0.7-1.8)]. RA patients who developed newly detectable CAC were older (59±7 vs. 55±6 years old, p=0.03), had higher triglyceride levels (137±86 vs. 97±60 mg/dL, p=0.03), and higher systolic blood pressure (129±17 vs. 117±15 mm Hg, p=0.01) compared to those who did not develop incident CAC. Differences in blood pressure and triglyceride levels remained significant after adjustment for age (p<=0.05). RA patients with any CAC at baseline had a median rate of yearly progression of 21 (7–62) compared to 21 (5–70) Agatston units in controls. No statistical differences between RA progressors and RA non-progressors were observed for inflammatory markers or for RA disease characteristics.
The incidence and progression of CAC did not differ between RA and non-RA participants. In patients with RA, incident CAC was associated with older age, higher triglyceride levels, and higher blood pressure, but not with inflammatory markers or RA disease characteristics.
PMCID: PMC3978773  PMID: 24286380
17.  Decreased Naive and Increased Memory CD4+ T Cells Are Associated with Subclinical Atherosclerosis: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e71498.
Adaptive immunity has been implicated in atherosclerosis in animal models and small clinical studies. Whether chronic immune activation is associated with atherosclerosis in otherwise healthy individuals remains underexplored. We hypothesized that activation of adaptive immune responses, as reflected by higher proportions of circulating CD4+ memory cells and lower proportions of naive cells, would be associated with subclinical atherosclerosis.
Methods and Findings
We examined cross-sectional relationships of circulating CD4+ naive and memory T cells with biomarkers of inflammation, serologies, and subclinical atherosclerosis in 912 participants of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Circulating CD4+ naive cells were higher in women than men and decreased with age (all p-values <0.0001). European-Americans had higher levels of naive cells and lower levels of memory cells compared with African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans (all p-values ≤0.0005). Lower naive/higher memory cells were associated with interleukin-6 levels. In multivariate models, cytomegalovirus (CMV) and H. Pylori titers were strongly associated with higher memory and lower naive cells (all p-values <0.05). Higher memory cells were associated with coronary artery calcification (CAC) level in the overall population [β-Coefficient (95% confidence interval (CI))  = 0.20 (0.03, 0.37)]. Memory and naive (inversely) cells were associated with common carotid artery intimal media thickness (CC IMT) in European-Americans [memory: β =  0.02 (0.006, 0.04); naive: β = −0.02 (−0.004, −0.03)].
These results demonstrate that the degree of chronic adaptive immune activation is associated with both CAC and CC IMT in otherwise healthy individuals, consistent with the known role of CD4+ T cells, and with innate immunity (inflammation), in atherosclerosis. These data are also consistent with the hypothesis that immunosenescence accelerates chronic diseases by putting a greater burden on the innate immune system, and suggest the importance of prospective studies and research into strategies to modulate adaptive immune activation in chronic disease states such as atherosclerosis.
PMCID: PMC3751895  PMID: 24009662
18.  Associations of Left Ventricular Hypertrophy with Prevalent and Incident Valve Calcification: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
JACC. Cardiovascular imaging  2012;5(8):781-788.
We aim to evaluate the relationship between percent of predicted left ventricular mass (%PredLVM) and valve calcification in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA).
Cardiac valve calcification has been associated with left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH), which portends cardiovascular events. However, this relationship and its mediators are poorly understood.
MESA is a longitudinal cohort study of men and women aged 45-84 years without clinical cardiovascular disease in whom serial cardiac magnetic resonance and computed tomography imaging were performed. The relationships between baseline %PredLVM and the prevalence, severity, and incidence of aortic valve (AVC) and mitral annulus calcification (MAC) were determined by regression modeling.
Prevalent AVC was observed in 630 and MAC in 442 of 5,042 subjects (median 55.9 and 71.1 Agatston units, respectively). After adjustment for age, gender, body mass index, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, physical activity, diabetes, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, smoking, kidney function, serum lipids, and antihypertensive and statin medications, %PredLVM was associated with prevalent AVC (OR=1.18 per SD increase in %PredLVM [95%CI 1.08 – 1.30]; p=0.0004) and MAC (OR=1.18 [95%CI 1.06 – 1.32]; p=0.002). Similarly, %PredLVM was associated with increased severity of prevalent AVC (risk difference = 0.26 [95%CI 0.15 – 0.38]; p<0.0001) and MAC (risk difference = 0.20 [95%CI 0.03 – 0.37]; p=0.02). During follow-up (mean 2.4±0.9 years), 153 subjects (4%) developed AVC and 198 (5%) MAC. %PredLVM was associated with incident AVC (OR=1.24 [95%CI 1.04 – 1.47]; p=0.02) and MAC (OR=1.18 [1.01-1.40]; p=0.04). Further adjustment for inflammatory markers and coronary artery calcification did not attenuate these associations. Specifically, concentric LVH most strongly predicted incident valve calcification.
Within the MESA cohort, LVH was associated with prevalence, severity, and incidence of valve calcification independent of hypertension and other identified confounders.
PMCID: PMC3426868  PMID: 22897991
aortic valve; calcification; left ventricular mass; mitral valve annulus
The annals of applied statistics  2012;6(3):1236-1255.
We analyze the Agatston score of coronary artery calcium (CAC) from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) using semi-parametric zero-inflated modeling approach, where the observed CAC scores from this cohort consist of high frequency of zeroes and continuously distributed positive values. Both partially constrained and unconstrained models are considered to investigate the underlying biological processes of CAC development from zero to positive, and from small amount to large amount. Different from existing studies, a model selection procedure based on likelihood cross-validation is adopted to identify the optimal model, which is justified by comparative Monte Carlo studies. A shrinkaged version of cubic regression spline is used for model estimation and variable selection simultaneously. When applying the proposed methods to the MESA data analysis, we show that the two biological mechanisms influencing the initiation of CAC and the magnitude of CAC when it is positive are better characterized by an unconstrained zero-inflated normal model. Our results are significantly different from those in published studies, and may provide further insights into the biological mechanisms underlying CAC development in human. This highly flexible statistical framework can be applied to zero-inflated data analyses in other areas.
PMCID: PMC3690929  PMID: 23805172
cardiovascular disease; coronary artery calcium; likelihood cross-validation; model selection; penalized spline; proportional constraint; shrinkage
20.  Determination of proportionality in two-part models and analysis of Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) 
Statistics and its interface  2011;4(4):475-487.
In MESA (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis), it is of interest to model the development and progression of CAC (coronary artery calcium). With about half of the CAC scores equal to zero and the rest continuously distributed, semiparametric two-part models are needed. Our main interest lies in determining the (partial) proportionality between the two covariate effects in two-part models. Such an investigation can provide important information on the mechanisms underlying CAC development. We propose a novel approach, which consists of penalized maximum likelihood estimation and a step-wise hypothesis testing procedure to determine proportionality. Simulation shows satisfactory performance of the proposed approach. Analysis of MESA suggests that proportionality holds for all covariates except LDL and HDL.
PMCID: PMC3680156  PMID: 23772262
Two-part models; Proportionality; Semiparametric estimation
21.  Aortic Valve Calcium Independently Predicts Coronary and Cardiovascular Events in a Primary Prevention Population 
Jacc. Cardiovascular Imaging  2012;5(6):619-625.
This study aimed to test whether aortic valve calcium (AVC) is independently associated with coronary and cardiovascular events in a primary-prevention population.
Aortic sclerosis is associated with increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality among the elderly, but the mechanisms underlying this association remain controversial and it is unknown if this association extends to younger individuals.
We performed a prospective analysis of 6,685 participants in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. All subjects, aged 45-84 years and free of clinical cardiovascular disease at baseline, underwent computed tomography for AVC and coronary artery calcium (CAC) scoring. The primary, pre-specified combined endpoint of cardiovascular events included myocardial infarctions, fatal and non-fatal strokes, resuscitated cardiac arrest and cardiovascular death, while a secondary combined endpoint of coronary events excluded strokes. The association between AVC and clinical events was assessed using Cox proportional hazards regression with incremental adjustments for demographics, cardiovascular risk factors, inflammatory biomarkers and subclinical coronary atherosclerosis.
Over a median follow up of 5.8 [IQR 5.6, 5.9] years, adjusting for demographics and cardiovascular risk factors, subjects with AVC (n=894, 13.4%) had higher risks of cardiovascular (HR, 1.50; 95% CI, 1.10-2.03) and coronary (HR, 1.72; 95% CI, 1.19-2.49) events compared to those without AVC. Adjustments for inflammatory biomarkers did not alter these associations, but adjustment for CAC substantially attenuated both cardiovascular (HR, 1.32; 95% CI: 0.98-1.78) and coronary (HR, 1.41; 95% CI, 0.98-2.02) event risk. AVC remained predictive of cardiovascular mortality even after full adjustment (HR, 2.51; 95% CI, 1.22-5.21).
In this multiethnic MESA cohort, free of clinical cardiovascular disease, AVC predicts cardiovascular and coronary event risk independent of traditional risk factors and inflammatory biomarkers, likely due to the strong correlation between AVC and subclinical atherosclerosis. The association of AVC with excess cardiovascular mortality beyond coronary atherosclerosis risk merits further investigation.
PMCID: PMC3376353  PMID: 22698532
22.  T‐Helper Type 1 Bias in Healthy People Is Associated With Cytomegalovirus Serology and Atherosclerosis: The Multi‐Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Although T‐helper type 1 (Th1) cells are considered important in atherosclerosis, the relationships between Th1 and Th2 cells and atherosclerosis have not been examined in population‐based studies.
Methods and Results
We measured Th cells as a percentage of lymphocytes by flow cytometry using CD4 staining (%CD4) in 917 participants of the Multi‐Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. We also measured interferon gamma–positive and interleukin‐4‐positive CD4+ cells, representing Th1 and Th2 subpopulations (%Th1 and %Th2), respectively. We found that %CD4 was 1.5% lower per 10 years of age (P<0.0001). Whites had higher %CD4 and lower %Th1 and %Th2 values than other race/ethnic groups. Body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure were associated with %CD4, but no traditional cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors were associated with %Th1 or %Th2. In multivariable models, the major independent variable associated with %Th1 was cytomegalovirus (CMV) antibody titer, with minor contributions from age, sex, seasonality, and interleukin‐6. In models with coronary artery calcification level as the outcome, significant independent variables included age, sex, smoking status, and %Th1 (β=0.25; P≤0.01). Both %Th1 and %Th2 were associated with common carotid intimal media thickness (β=0.02 and −0.02, respectively; both P<0.05), as were age, sex, race/ethnicity, blood pressure, and BMI.
Th1 bias is associated with subclinical atherosclerosis in a multiethnic population. The main Th1 correlate was CMV infectious burden. These findings are consistent with a role of Th1 cells in atherosclerosis and suggest the importance of prospective studies of T‐helper cell biasing in CVD.
PMCID: PMC3698770  PMID: 23688675
atherosclerosis; epidemiology; immunology; inflammation; T‐helper cell
23.  Telomere-associated polymorphisms correlate with cardiovascular disease mortality in Caucasian women: The Cardiovascular Health Study 
Leukocyte telomere length (LTL) is linked to cardiovascular disease (CVD); however, it is unclear if LTL has an etiologic role in CVD. To gain insight into the LTL and CVD relationship, a cohort study of CVD mortality and single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in OBFC1 and TERC, genes related to LTL, was conducted among 3271 Caucasian participants ages ≥65 years enrolled 1989–1990 in the Cardiovascular Health Study. Leukocyte DNA was genotyped for SNPs in OBFC1 (rs4387287 and rs9419958) and TERC (rs3772190) that were previously associated with LTL through genome-wide association studies. Cox regression was used to estimate adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). The OBFC1 SNPs were in linkage disequilibrium (r2=0.99), and both SNPs were similarly associated with CVD mortality in women. For women, there was a decreased risk of CVD death associated with the minor allele (rs4387287), HR=0.7; 95% CI: 0.5–0.9 (CC vs. AC) and HR=0.5; 95% CI: 0.20–1.4 (CC vs. AA) (p-trend <0.01). For men there was no association, HR=1.0; 95% CI: 0.7–1.3 (CC vs. AC) and HR=1.7; 95% CI: 0.8–3.6 (CC vs. AA) (p-trend=0.64). These findings support the hypothesis that telomere biology and associated genes may play a role in CVD-related death, particularly among women.
PMCID: PMC3391009  PMID: 22449406
24.  Metabolic Syndrome, Diabetes, and Incidence and Progression of Coronary Calcium: The Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) 
Jacc. Cardiovascular Imaging  2012;5(4):358-366.
The purpose of the study was to examine and compare the incidence and progression of coronary artery calcium (CAC) among persons with metabolic syndrome (MetS) and diabetes mellitus (DM), compared to those with neither condition.
MetS and DM are associated with subclinical atherosclerosis as evidenced by coronary artery calcium (CAC).
The Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis included 6,814 African-American, Asian, Caucasian, and Hispanic adults aged 45–84 free of cardiovascular disease at baseline. 5,662 subjects (51% female, mean age 61.0 ± 10.3 years) received baseline and follow-up (mean 2.4 years) cardiac CT scans. We compared the incidence of CAC in 2,927 subjects without CAC at baseline and progression of CAC in 2,735 subjects with CAC at baseline in those with MetS without DM (25.2%), DM without MetS (3.5%), or both DM and MetS (9.0%), compared to neither MetS nor DM (58%). Progression of CAC was also examined in relation to coronary heart disease events over an additional 4.9 years.
Relative to those with neither MetS nor DM, adjusted relative risks (95% confidence intervals) for incident CAC were 1.7 (1.4–2.0), 1.9 (1.4–2.4), and 1.8 (1.4–2.2) (all p<0.01) and absolute differences in mean progression (volume score) were 7.8 (4.0–11.6; p<0.01), 11.6 (2.7–20.5; p<0.05), and 22.6 (17.2–27.9; p<0.01) for those with MetS without DM, DM without MetS, and both DM and MetS, respectively. Similar findings were seen in analysis using Agatston calcium score. In addition, progression predicted CHD events in those with MetS without DM (adjusted hazard ratio 4.1, 95% CI=2.0–8.5, p<0.01) and DM (4.9 [1.3–18.4], p<0.05) among those in highest tertile of CAC increase vs. no increase).
Individuals with MetS and DM have a greater incidence and absolute progression of CAC compared to individuals without these conditions, with progression also predicting CHD events in those with MetS and DM.
PMCID: PMC3327555  PMID: 22498324
atherosclerosis; diabetes; risk factors; calcification
25.  Cholesteryl Ester Transfer Protein Genetic Polymorphisms, HDL Cholesterol, and Subclinical Cardiovascular Disease in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Atherosclerosis  2008;200(2):359-367.
The cholesteryl ester transport protein (CETP) plays a key role in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) metabolism. Genetic variants that alter CETP activity and concentration may cause significant alterations in HDL-cholesterol (HDL-C) concentration; however, controversies remain about whether these genetic variants are associated with atherosclerosis. We genotyped the CETP R451Q, A373P, -629C/A, Taq1B, and -2505C/A polymorphisms in a cohort of Caucasian, Chinese, African-American, and Hispanic individuals within the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Genotypes were examined in relationship to HDL-C, CETP activity, CETP concentration, and three measures of subclinical cardiovascular disease (CVD): coronary artery calcium (CAC) measured by fast CT scanning, and carotid intimal-medial thickness (IMT) and carotid artery plaque, measured by ultrasonography. Carriers of the 451Q and 373P alleles have significantly higher CETP concentration (22.4% and 19.5%, respectively; p<0.001) and activity (13.1% and 9.4%, respectively; p<0.01) and lower HDL-C (5.6% and 6.0%, respectively; p<0.05). The minor alleles of the R451Q and A373P polymorphisms are associated with the presence of CAC, even after adjusting for CVD risk factors and HDL-C (p=0.006 and p=0.01, respectively). The R451Q polymorphism is also associated with presence of carotid artery plaque (p=0.036). Neither polymorphism is associated with common or internal carotid IMT. We confirmed that the -629A, Taq1B B2, and -2505A alleles are significantly associated with lower CETP concentration (20.8%, 25.0%, and 23.7%, respectively; p<0.001) and activity (14.8%, 19.8%, and 18.4%, respectively; p<0.001) and higher HDL-C concentration (9.7%, 11.5%, and 10.4%, respectively; p<0.01). However, we did not find any associations between these non-coding polymorphisms and subclinical CVD.
PMCID: PMC3612981  PMID: 18243217

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