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1.  Methods for Estimation of Disparities in Medication Use in an Observational Cohort Study: Results from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Purpose
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1002/pds.3406
PMCID: PMC3652567  PMID: 23382107
disparities; medication; statistical methods; statins; anti-hypertensives
2.  Ten-Year Trends in Coronary Calcification in Individuals without Clinical Cardiovascular Disease in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94916.
Background
Coronary heart disease (CHD) incidence has declined significantly in the US, as have levels of major coronary risk factors, including LDL-cholesterol, hypertension and smoking, but whether trends in subclinical atherosclerosis mirror these trends is not known.
Methods and Findings
To describe recent secular trends in subclinical atherosclerosis as measured by serial evaluations of coronary artery calcification (CAC) prevalence in a population over 10 years, we measured CAC using computed tomography (CT) and CHD risk factors in five serial cross-sectional samples of men and women from four race/ethnic groups, aged 55–84 and without clinical cardiovascular disease, who were members of Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) cohort from 2000 to 2012. Sample sizes ranged from 1062 to 4837. After adjusting for age, gender, and CT scanner, the prevalence of CAC increased across exams among African Americans, whose prevalence of CAC was 52.4% in 2000–02, 50.4% in 2003–04, 60.0% is 2005–06, 57.4% in 2007–08, and 61.3% in 2010–12 (p for trend <0.001). The trend was strongest among African Americans aged 55–64 [prevalence ratio for 2010–12 vs. 2000–02, 1.59 (95% confidence interval 1.06, 2.39); p = 0.005 for trend across exams]. There were no consistent trends in any other ethnic group. Risk factors generally improved in the cohort, and adjustment for risk factors did not change trends in CAC prevalence.
Conclusions
There was a significant secular trend towards increased prevalence of CAC over 10 years among African Americans and no change in three other ethnic groups. Trends did not reflect concurrent general improvement in risk factors. The trend towards a higher prevalence of CAC in African Americans suggests that CHD risk in this population is not improving relative to other groups.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0094916
PMCID: PMC3990562  PMID: 24743658
3.  The Relationship between Measures of Obesity and Incident Heart Failure: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.)  2013;21(9):1915-1922.
Objective
To evaluate the strength of association of body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC) with incident heart failure (HF), exploring our associations by ethnicity and age.
Design and Methods
We included 6,809 participants, aged 45–84 years, without clinical cardiovascular disease (2000–2002), from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Cox-Proportional hazards models were used to examine associations of BMI and WC with incident HF. The predictive abilities of BMI and WC were compared using receiver operating characteristic curves.
Results
Over a median follow-up of 7.6 years, there were 176 cases. BMI and WC were associated with incident HF in men [1.33 (1.10–1.61) and 1.38 (1.18–1.62) respectively] and women [1.70 (1.33–2.17) and 1.64 (1.29–2.08) respectively]. These associations became non-significant after adjusting for obesity-related conditions (hypertension, dysglycemia, hypercholesterolemia, left ventricular hypertrophy, kidney disease and inflammation). The associations of BMI and WC did not vary significantly by ethnicity or age-group, but were inverse in Hispanic men. The area under the curve for BMI and WC was 0.749 and 0.750, respectively, in men and 0.782 and 0.777, respectively, in women.
Conclusions
The association between obesity and incident HF is largely mediated by obesity-related conditions. BMI and WC have similar predictive abilities for incident HF.
doi:10.1002/oby.20298
PMCID: PMC3664654  PMID: 23441088
Obesity; heart failure; body mass index and waist circumference
4.  Does Elevated Plasma Triglyceride Level Independently Predict Impaired Fasting Glucose? 
Diabetes Care  2013;36(2):342-347.
OBJECTIVE
Elevated plasma triglycerides (TGs) have been included in diabetes risk prediction models. This study examined whether elevated TGs predict risk for impaired fasting glucose (IFG).
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
This study used the baseline and longitudinal follow-up data from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). The analysis included non-Hispanic whites, African Americans, Hispanics, and Chinese Americans 45–84 years of age who had fasting glucose <100 mg/dL at baseline and who did not have clinically evident cardiovascular disease or diabetes. Cox proportional regression models were used to examine the association of elevated TGs with incidence of IFG adjusting for central obesity, low HDL cholesterol, elevated blood pressure, baseline fasting glucose, and BMI. Area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC), sensitivity, and specificity of elevated TGs in predicting IFG were calculated.
RESULTS
The incidence rate of developing IFG was 59.1 per 1,000 person-years during the median 4.75 years of follow-up. African Americans and Hispanics had a higher incidence rate of IFG compared with non-Hispanic whites among people with normal TG concentrations. Elevated TGs (>150 mg/dL) at baseline were independently associated with the incidence of IFG with an adjusted hazard ratio of 1.19 (95% CI 1.04–1.37). However, its predictive value for identifying people at risk for IFG was poor, with <57% AUC. Interactions of elevated TGs with race/ethnicity in predicting IFG were not statistically significant.
CONCLUSIONS
Elevated TGs were moderately associated with risk for IFG, and it was a poor risk prediction tool for IFG.
doi:10.2337/dc12-0355
PMCID: PMC3554324  PMID: 23033247
5.  The Association of Health Professional Shortage Areas and Cardiovascular Risk Factor Prevalence, Awareness and Control in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) 
Circulation. Cardiovascular quality and outcomes  2011;4(5):10.1161/CIRCOUTCOMES.111.960922.
Background
Individuals living in primary care health professional shortage areas (PC-HPSA) often have difficulty obtaining medical care; however, no previous studies have examined association of PC-HPSA residence with prevalence of CVD risk factors.
Methods and Results
To examine this question, the authors used data from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis baseline exam (2000–2002). Outcomes included the prevalence of diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, smoking and obesity as well as the awareness and control of diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia. Multivariable Poisson models were used to examine the independent association of PC-HPSA residence with each outcome. Models were sequentially adjusted for demographics, acculturation, socioeconomic status, access to health care and neighborhood socioeconomic status. Similar to the national average, 16.7% of MESA participants lived in a PC-HPSA. In unadjusted analyses, prevalence rates of diabetes (14.8% vs 11.0%), hypertension (48.2% vs 43.1%), obesity (35.7% vs 31.1%) and smoking (15.5% vs 12.1%) were significantly higher among residents of PC-HPSAs. There were no significant differences in the awareness or control of diabetes, hypertension, or hyperlipidemia. After adjustment, residence in a PC-HPSA was not independently associated with CVD risk factor prevalence, awareness or control.
Conclusions
This study suggests that increased prevalence of CVD risk factors in PC-HPSAs are explained by the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of their residents. Future interventions aimed at increasing the number of primary care physicians may not improve cardiovascular risk without first addressing other factors underlying healthcare disparities.
doi:10.1161/CIRCOUTCOMES.111.960922
PMCID: PMC3857032  PMID: 21878669
epidemiology; prevention; risk factors
6.  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.
Introduction
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/ar4314
PMCID: PMC3978773  PMID: 24286380
7.  ENDOGENOUS SEX HORMONES, BLOOD PRESSURE CHANGE, AND RISK OF HYPERTENSION IN POSTMENOPAUSAL WOMEN: THE MULTI-ETHNIC STUDY OF ATHEROSCLEROSIS 
Atherosclerosis  2012;224(1):228-234.
Objective
Sex steroid hormones have been postulated to involve in blood pressure (BP) regulation. We examine the association of endogenous sex hormone levels with longitudinal change of BP and risk of developing hypertension in initially normotensive postmenopausal women.
Methods
We conducted prospective analysis among 619 postmenopausal women free of hypertension at baseline in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Change of BP and development of incident hypertension were assessed during a mean of 4.8 years follow-up.
Results
After adjusting for age, race/ethnicity, and lifestyle factors, baseline serum estradiol (E2), total and bioavailable testosterone (T), dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) were each positively and sex- hormone binding globulin (SHBG) was inversely associated with risk of hypertension. Additional adjustment for body mass index eliminated the associations for E2 and T but only attenuated the associations for DHEA and SHBG. The corresponding multivariable hazard ratios (95% CIs) in the highest quartile were 1.28 (0.83–1.97) for E2, 1.38 (0.89–2.14) for total T, 1.42 (0.90–2.23) for bioavailable T, 1.54 (1.02–2.31) for DHEA, and 0.48 (0.30–0.76) for SHBG. Adjustment for fasting glucose, insulin, and C-reactive protein further attenuated the association for DHEA but not SHBG. Associations of sex hormones with longitudinal BP change were similar.
Conclusion
In postmenopausal women, higher endogenous E2, T, and DHEA and lower SHBG were associated with higher incidence of hypertension and greater longitudinal rise in BP. The associations for E2, T, and DHEA were mostly explained by adiposity, while the association for SHBG was independent of measures of adiposity, insulin resistance, and systemic inflammation.
doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2012.07.005
PMCID: PMC3428144  PMID: 22862963
sex steroid hormones; hypertension; blood pressure; postmenopausal women; prospective study; epidemiology
8.  A Diet Pattern with More Dairy and Nuts, but Less Meat Is Related to Lower Risk of Developing Hypertension in Middle-Aged Adults: The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study 
Nutrients  2013;5(5):1719-1733.
Dietary intake among other lifestyle factors influence blood pressure. We examined the associations of an “a priori” diet score with incident high normal blood pressure (HNBP; systolic blood pressure (SBP) 120–139 mmHg, or diastolic blood pressure (DBP) 80–89 mmHg and no antihypertensive medications) and hypertension (SBP ≥ 140 mmHg, DBP ≥ 90 mmHg, or taking antihypertensive medication). We used proportional hazards regression to evaluate this score in quintiles (Q) and each food group making up the score relative to incident HNBP or hypertension over nine years in the Atherosclerosis Risk of Communities (ARIC) study of 9913 African-American and Caucasian adults aged 45–64 years and free of HNBP or hypertension at baseline. Incidence of HNBP varied from 42.5% in white women to 44.1% in black women; and incident hypertension from 26.1% in white women to 40.8% in black women. Adjusting for demographics and CVD risk factors, the “a priori” food score was inversely associated with incident hypertension; but not HNBP. Compared to Q1, the relative hazards of hypertension for the food score Q2–Q5 were 0.97 (0.87–1.09), 0.91 (0.81–1.02), 0.91 (0.80–1.03), and 0.86 (0.75–0.98); ptrend = 0.01. This inverse relation was largely attributable to greater intake of dairy products and nuts, and less meat. These findings support the 2010 Dietary Guidelines to consume more dairy products and nuts, but suggest a reduction in meat intake.
doi:10.3390/nu5051719
PMCID: PMC3708346  PMID: 23698164
diet pattern; healthy food score; hypertension; high normal blood pressure
9.  Black-White Disparities in Overweight and Obesity Trends by Educational Attainment in the United States, 1997–2008 
Journal of Obesity  2013;2013:140743.
Background. Few studies have examined racial and educational disparities in recent population-based trends. Methods. We analyzed data of a nationally representative sample of 174,228 US-born adults in the National Health Interview Survey from 1997 to 2008. We determined mean BMI trends by educational attainment and race and black-white prevalence ratios (PRs) for overweight/obesity (BMI > 25 kg/m2) using adjusted Poisson regression with robust variance. Results. From 1997 to 2008, BMI increased by ≥1 kg/m2 in all race-sex groups, and appeared to increase faster among whites. Blacks with greater than a high school education (GHSE) had a consistently higher BMI over time than whites in both women (28.3 ± 0.14 to 29.7 ± 0.18 kg/m2 versus 25.8 ± 0.58 to 26.5 ± 0.08 kg/m2) and men (28.1 ± 0.17 kg/m2 to 29.0 ± 0.20 versus 27.1 ± 0.04 kg/m2 to 28.1 ± 0.06 kg/m2). For participants of all educational attainment levels, age-adjusted overweight/obesity was greater by 44% (95% CI: 1.42–1.46) in black versus white women and 2% (1.01–1.04) in men. Among those with GHSE, overweight/obesity prevalence was greater (PR: 1.52; 1.49–1.55) in black versus white women, but greater (1.07; 1.05–1.09) in men. Conclusions. BMI increased steadily in all race-sex and education groups from 1997 to 2008, and blacks (particularly women) had a consistently higher BMI than their white counterparts. Overweight/obesity trends and racial disparities were more prominent among individuals with higher education levels, compared to their counterparts with lower education levels.
doi:10.1155/2013/140743
PMCID: PMC3649192  PMID: 23691282
10.  Prevalence of Traditional Modifiable Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis: Comparison with Control Subjects from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Objective
Despite the recognized risk of accelerated atherosclerosis in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), little is known about cardiovascular risk management in contemporary cohorts of these patients. We tested the hypotheses that major modifiable cardiovascular risk factors were more frequent and rates of treatment, detection, and control were lower in patients with RA than in non-RA controls.
Methods
The prevalence of hypertension, diabetes, elevated low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, elevated body mass index, smoking, moderate-high 10-year cardiovascular risk and the rates of underdiagnosis, therapeutic treatment, and recommended management were compared in 197 RA patients and 274 frequency-matched control subjects, and their associations with clinical characteristics were examined.
Results
Eighty percent of RA patients and 81% of control subjects had at least 1 modifiable traditional cardiovascular risk factor. Hypertension was more prevalent in the RA group (57%) than in controls [42%, P =0.001]. There were no statistically significant differences in the frequency of diabetes, elevated body mass index, smoking, intermediate-high 10-year coronary heart disease risk, or elevated LDL in patients with RA versus controls. Rates of newly identified diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia were similar in RA patients versus controls. Rates of therapeutic interventions were low in both groups but their use was associated with well-controlled blood pressure (OR = 4.55, 95% CI: 1.70, 12.19) and lipid levels (OR = 9.90, 95% CI: 3.30, 29.67).
Conclusions
Hypertension is more common in RA than in controls. Other traditional cardiovascular risk factors are highly prevalent, underdiagnosed, and poorly controlled in patients with RA, as well as controls.
doi:10.1016/j.semarthrit.2011.07.004
PMCID: PMC3538033  PMID: 22340996
rheumatoid arthritis; cardiovascular risk; epidemiology
11.  Association between birthweight and cognitive function in middle age: the ARIC study 
Annals of epidemiology  2011;21(11):851-856.
PURPOSE
We aimed to examine the relationship of birthweight to cognitive performance in middle aged participants of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (ARIC).
METHODS
Cognitive function, assessed by means of three neuropsychological tests - the Delayed Word Recall Test (DWR), the Digit Symbol Subtest of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised (DSS/WAIS-R) and the Word Fluency (WF) Test, was evaluated in relation to birthweight, as recalled through standardized interviews, using data from the second and fourth follow-up visits of the ARIC study cohort (1990 to 1992 and 1996 to 1998, respectively). Overall, 6785 participants satisfied the inclusion criteria and were included in the analysis.
RESULTS
After adjusting for adult socio-demographic factors, childhood socio-economic environment and parental risk factors, and adult anthropometric, health status related and behavioral variables, linear trends were observed for the relationship of birthweight to WF scores, although the trend was statistically significant only for those reporting exact birthweights (p for trend= 0.004). For the other cognitive test results, results were either null or inconsistent with the a priori hypotheses.
CONCLUSIONS
Except for WF in those reporting exact birthweights, our study does not support the notion that birthweight influences cognitive function in adults.
doi:10.1016/j.annepidem.2011.06.004
PMCID: PMC3190020  PMID: 21784656
birthweight; cognition disorders; fetal programming; cohort studies
12.  Longitudinal Predictors of Progression of Carotid Atherosclerosis in Rheumatoid Arthritis 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2011;63(11):3216-3225.
Objective
To explore predictors of change in measures of carotid atherosclerosis among rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients without known cardiovascular disease (CVD) at baseline
Methods
RA patients underwent carotid ultrasonography at two timepoints, separated by an average of 3.2 ± 0.3 years. The associations of baseline and average patient characteristics with the average yearly change in mean maximal intima-medial thickness (IMT) of the common (CCA) and internal carotid arteries (ICA), and with incident or progressive plaque in the ICA/carotid bulb, were explored.
Results
Among the 158 RA patients, maxCCA-IMT increased in 82% (median=16 μm/year; p<0.001) and maxICA-IMT increased in 70% (median=25 μm/year; p<0.001). Incident plaque was observed in 14% without baseline plaque [incidence rate=4.2/100 person-years (95% CI 1.61–6.82)]. Plaque progression was observed in 5% with baseline plaque. Among RA predictors, the adjusted average yearly change in maxCCA-IMT was significantly greater in patients with earlier RA vs. longer disease. Those prescribed TNF inhibitors at baseline had a 37% lower adjusted rate of maxCCA-IMT progression vs. non-users (14 vs. 22 μm/year; p=0.026). For maxICA-IMT, cumulative prednisone exposure was associated with progression [1.2 μm/year per gram (95% CI 0.1–2.4)] after adjustment, and was lower in patients prescribed statins concomitant with prednisone. Higher swollen joint count and higher average CRP were both associated with incident or progressive plaque, primarily in patients with elevated baseline CVD risk based on the Framingham score.
Conclusions
These prospective data provide evidence for inflammation as a contributor to subclinical atherosclerosis progression in RA, potentially modified favorably by TNF inhibitors and detrimentally by glucocorticoids.
doi:10.1002/art.30542
PMCID: PMC3205252  PMID: 21965129
Atherosclerosis; Inflammation; prediction; carotid ultrasound
13.  Impact of Subclinical Atherosclerosis on Cardiovascular Disease Events in Individuals With Metabolic Syndrome and Diabetes 
Diabetes Care  2011;34(10):2285-2290.
OBJECTIVE
While metabolic syndrome (MetS) and diabetes confer greater cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, recent evidence suggests that individuals with these conditions have a wide range of risk. We evaluated whether screening for coronary artery calcium (CAC) and carotid intimal-medial thickness (CIMT) can improve CVD risk stratification over traditional risk factors (RFs) in people with MetS and diabetes.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
We assessed CAC and CIMT in 6,603 people aged 45–84 years in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Cox regression examined the association of CAC and CIMT with coronary heart disease (CHD) and CVD over 6.4 years in MetS and diabetes.
RESULTS
Of the subjects, 1,686 (25%) had MetS but no diabetes and 881 (13%) had diabetes. Annual CHD event rates were 1.0% among MetS and 1.5% for diabetes. Ethnicity and RF-adjusted hazard ratios for CHD for CAC 1–99 to ≥400 vs. 0 in subjects with neither MetS nor diabetes ranged from 2.6 to 9.5; in those with MetS, they ranged from 3.9 to 11.9; and in those with diabetes, they ranged from 2.9 to 6.2 (all P < 0.05 to P < 0.001). Findings were similar for CVD. CAC increased the C-statistic for events (P < 0.001) over RFs and CIMT in each group while CIMT added negligibly to prediction over RFs.
CONCLUSIONS
Individuals with MetS or diabetes have low risks for CHD when CAC or CIMT is not increased. Prediction of CHD and CVD events is improved by CAC more than by CIMT. Screening for CAC or CIMT can stratify risk in people with MetS and diabetes and support the latest recommendations regarding CAC screening in those with diabetes.
doi:10.2337/dc11-0816
PMCID: PMC3177707  PMID: 21844289
14.  The Relationship of Insulin Resistance and Extracoronary Calcification in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Atherosclerosis  2011;218(2):507-510.
OBJECTIVE
We hypothesized that insulin resistance, measured by the homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA), is independently associated with prevalent and incident extra-coronary calcification (ECC).
METHODS
We studied calcium scores of the aortic valve (AVC), mitral valve (MVC), thoracic aorta (TAC) and aortic valve root (AVR) in 6,104 MESA participants not on diabetes medication who had baseline cardiac CT scans; 5,312 had follow-up scans (mean 2.4y). Relative-risk regression modeled prevalent and incident ECC adjusted for baseline demographics (model 1), and additionally for CVD risk factors (model 2).
RESULTS
In model 1, prevalence and incidence risk-ratios for the highest versus lowest quartile of HOMA were 20–30% higher in all ECC locations (p-value for trend ≤0.05 for all but incident-AVC). In model 2, all associations were attenuated, primarily by adjustment for metabolic syndrome components.
CONCLUSIONS
HOMA has a positive and graded association with ECC, but not independently of cardiovascular risk factors—particularly metabolic syndrome components.
doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2011.06.047
PMCID: PMC3185155  PMID: 21798541
cardiovascular calcification; insulin resistance; atherosclerosis; metabolic syndrome; computed tomography; valvular calcification; thoracic aortic calcification
15.  Association between Obesity, hsCRP ≥2 mg/L, and Subclinical Atherosclerosis: Implications of JUPITER from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) 
Objective
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1161/ATVBAHA.111.223768
PMCID: PMC3130297  PMID: 21474823
obesity; hsCRP; high sensitivity C-reactive protein; subclinical atherosclerosis; coronary artery calcium; carotid intima-media thickness
16.  Usefulness of Baseline Obesity to Predict Development of a High Ankle Brachial Index (From the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis) 
The American journal of cardiology  2011;107(9):1386-1391.
An abnormally high ankle brachial index (ABI) is associated with increased all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. The relationship of obesity to incident high-ABI has not been characterized. We investigated the hypothesis that increased obesity—quantified by body weight, BMI, waist circumference, and waist-to-hip-ratio—is positively associated with a high-ABI (ABI ≥ 1.3) and with mean ABI increases over a four year follow-up. Prevalence and incidence ratios for a high-ABI were obtained for 6540 and 5045 participants respectively in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), using log-binomial regression models adjusted for demographic, cardiovascular, and inflammatory/novel risk factors. Linear regression was used to analyze mean ABI change. Both prevalence and incidence of a high-ABI were significantly higher for the highest versus the lowest quartile of every baseline measure of obesity, with weight and BMI demonstrating the highest incidence ratios (2.7 and 2.4, respectively). All prevalence and incidence ratios were positive and graded across obesity quartiles, and were persistent in the subpopulation without diabetes. Among those with normal baseline ABI values, one MESA-standard deviation increase in every baseline measure of obesity was associated with significant increases in mean ABI values. In conclusion, we observed an independent, positive and graded association of increasing obesity to both prevalent and incident high-ABI, and to mean increases in ABI values over time. Weight and BMI seemed to be at least as strongly, if not more strongly, associated with a high-ABI than were measures of abdominal obesity.
doi:10.1016/j.amjcard.2010.12.050
PMCID: PMC3079000  PMID: 21377643
obesity; anthropometric measures; peripheral vascular disease; ankle-brachial index; epidemiology
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.
doi:10.1016/j.amjcard.2010.10.072
PMCID: PMC3182475  PMID: 21376929
coronary calcium; biomarkers; novel markers; low-risk; risk factors
18.  The Relationship Between Insulin Resistance and Incidence and Progression of Coronary Artery Calcification 
Diabetes Care  2011;34(3):749-751.
OBJECTIVE
We sought to determine whether insulin resistance predicts the incidence and progression of coronary artery calcification (CAC).
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
We studied 5,464 participants not on hypoglycemic therapy from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Each had baseline homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) and baseline and follow-up CAC scores. Incident CAC was defined as newly detectable CAC; progression was defined as advancing CAC volume score at follow-up.
RESULTS
Median HOMA-IR was 1.2 (0.8–2.0). Across all ethnicities, there was a graded increase in CAC incidence and progression with increasing HOMA-IR. When compared with those in the 1st quartile, participants in the 2nd–4th quartiles had 1.2, 1.5, and 1.8 times greater risk of developing CAC. Median annualized CAC score progression was 8, 14, and 17 higher, respectively. However, HOMA-IR was not predictive after adjustment for metabolic syndrome components.
CONCLUSIONS
HOMA-IR predicts CAC incidence and progression, but not independently of metabolic syndrome.
doi:10.2337/dc10-1681
PMCID: PMC3041221  PMID: 21292863
19.  The association between non-subcutaneous adiposity and calcified coronary plaque: A substudy of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Background
Excessive non-subcutaneous fat deposition may impair the functions of surrounding tissues and organs through the release of inflammatory cytokines and free fatty acids.
Objective
We examined the cross-sectional association between non-subcutaneous adiposity and calcified coronary plaque, a non-invasive measure of coronary artery disease burden.
Design
Participants in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis underwent CT assessment of calcified coronary plaque. We measured multiple fat depots in 398 white and black participants (47% men and 43% black), ages 47–86 years, from Forsyth County, NC during 2002–2005, using cardiac and abdominal CT scans. In addition to examining each depot separately, we also created a non-subcutaneous fat index using the standard scores of non-subcutaneous fat depots.
Results
A total of 219 participants (55%) were found to have calcified coronary plaque. After adjusting for demographics, lifestyle factors and height, calcified coronary plaque was associated with a one standard deviation increment in the non-subcutaneous fat index (OR = 1.41; 95% CI: 1.08, 1.84), pericardial fat (OR = 1.38; 95% CI: 1.04, 1.84), abdominal visceral fat (OR = 1.35; 95% CI: 1.03, 1.76), but not with fat content in the liver, intermuscular fat, or abdominal subcutaneous fat. The relation between non-subcutaneous fat index and calcified coronary plaque remained after further adjustment for abdominal subcutaneous fat (OR = 1.40; 95% CI: 1.00, 1.94). The relation did not differ by gender and ethnicity.
Conclusions
The overall burden of non-subcutaneous fat deposition, but not abdominal subcutaneous fat, may be a correlate of coronary atherosclerosis.
PMCID: PMC3282464  PMID: 18779279
20.  Racial/Ethnic Differences in the Association of Triglycerides with Other Metabolic Syndrome Components: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Abstract
Objective
The aim of this study was to examine whether there are ethnic differences in the association of triglycerides (TG) with waist circumference (WC), blood pressure, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), fasting glucose, and insulin resistance and to examine the disparities in the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome components between African Americans and non-Hispanic whites who do not have hypertriglyceridemia.
Methods
This study used the baseline data from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) study. The analysis included non-Hispanic whites (N = 2,427) and African Americans (N = 1,519) aged 45–84 years free of clinically evident cardiovascular disease and diabetes at baseline. The revised National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) criteria were used to define the metabolic syndrome and its components.
Results
African Americans had lower prevalence of elevated TG as compared with non-Hispanic whites. The association of TG with other components of the metabolic syndrome appeared to be similar between African Americans and non-Hispanic whites except for one. There was significant association of TG with WC among white women but not among African American women after adjusting for demographic and other variables (P for interaction of TG with ethnicity <0.001). In participants with TG < 150 mg/dL, African American women had higher prevalence rates than white women of abdominal obesity, elevated blood pressure, low HDL-C, elevated fasting glucose and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR). In men, the prevalence rates of high blood pressure, elevated fasting glucose, and HOMA-IR were significantly higher in African Americans than in whites.
Conclusions
The study findings suggest that further evaluation is warranted regarding the cutoffs for elevated TG and its clustering effect with other cardiometabolic risk factors on predicting risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD) in African Americans.
doi:10.1089/met.2010.0050
PMCID: PMC3125569  PMID: 20958206
21.  Association of Endothelial and Oxidative Stress with Metabolic Syndrome and Subclinical Atherosclerosis: Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Objectives
A cluster of metabolic abnormalities termed metabolic syndrome (MetS) is associated with vascular endothelial dysfunction and oxidative internal milieu. We examined whether the association of MetS with subclinical atherosclerosis is explained by biomarkers of endothelial damage and oxidative stress.
Methods
MESA is a population based study of 45-84 year old individuals of four US ethnicities without clinical cardiovascular disease. A random sample of 997 MESA participants had data on the following biomarkers: von Willebrand Factor, soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (sICAM1), CD40 ligand, soluble thrombomodulin, E-selectin, and oxidized LDL (oxLDL). We examined whether the associations of MetS with B-mode ultrasound-defined common and internal carotid intimal medial thickness (IMT) and coronary artery calcium (CAC) measured using computerized tomography were explained by the biomarkers using multiple regression methods.
Results
MetS was associated with higher levels of each of the biomarkers (p<0.001, CD40L suggestive association p=0.004), with greater IMT (p<0.001), and with greater extent of CAC in those in whom CAC was detectable (p=0.01). The association of MetS with measures of subclinical atherosclerosis remained unchanged after adjustment for the biomarkers. After adjusting for MetS, oxLDL was suggestively associated with greater prevalence of detectable CAC (p=0.005) and thicker internal carotid IMT (p=0.002), while sICAM-1was significantly associated with greater prevalence of detectable CAC (p=0.001).
Conclusions
The association of MetS with subclinical atherosclerosis was independent of its association with biomarkers of endothelial damage and oxidative stress, suggesting that metabolic abnormalities and oxidative endothelial damage may lead to atherosclerotic disease through distinct mechanisms.
doi:10.1038/ejcn.2011.47
PMCID: PMC3130805  PMID: 21505504
Metabolic syndrome; biomarkers; coronary artery atherosclerosis; carotid arteries
22.  Pericardial Fat and Myocardial Perfusion in Asymptomatic Adults from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e28410.
Background
Pericardial fat has adverse effects on the surrounding vasculature. Previous studies suggest that pericardial fat may contribute to myocardial ischemia in symptomatic individuals. However, it is unknown if pericardial fat has similar effects in asymptomatic individuals.
Methods
We determined the association between pericardial fat and myocardial blood flow (MBF) in 214 adults with no prior history of cardiovascular disease from the Minnesota field center of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (43% female, 56% Caucasian, 44% Hispanic). Pericardial fat volume was measured by computed tomography. MBF was measured by MRI at rest and during adenosine-induced hyperemia. Myocardial perfusion reserve (PR) was calculated as the ratio of hyperemic to resting MBF.
Results
Gender-stratified analyses revealed significant differences between men and women including less pericardial fat (71.9±31.3 vs. 105.2±57.5 cm3, p<0.0001) and higher resting MBF (1.12±0.23 vs. 0.93±0.19 ml/min/g, p<0.0001), hyperemic MBF (3.49±0.76 vs. 2.65±0.72 ml/min/g, p<0.0001), and PR (3.19±0.78 vs. 2.93±0.89, p = 0.03) in women. Correlations between pericardial fat and clinical and hemodynamic variables were stronger in women. In women only (p = 0.01 for gender interaction) higher pericardial fat was associated with higher resting MBF (p = 0.008). However, this association was attenuated after accounting for body mass index or rate-pressure product. There were no significant associations between pericardial fat and hyperemic MBF or PR after multivariate adjustment in either gender. In logistic regression analyses there was also no association between impaired coronary vasoreactivity, defined as having a PR <2.5, and pericardial fat in men (OR, 1.18; 95% CI, 0.82–1.70) or women (OR, 1.11; 95% CI, 0.68–1.82).
Conclusions
Our data fail to support an independent association between pericardial fat and myocardial perfusion in adults without symptomatic cardiovascular disease. Nevertheless, these findings highlight potentially important differences between asymptomatic and symptomatic individuals with respect to the underlying subclinical disease burden.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0028410
PMCID: PMC3235122  PMID: 22174800
23.  Abdominal Adiposity in Rheumatoid Arthritis: Association with Cardiometabolic Risk Factors and Disease Characteristics 
Arthritis and rheumatism  2010;62(11):3173-3182.
Background
Abdominal adiposity, especially visceral adiposity, is an emerging cardiometabolic risk factor. How abdominal fat is distributed in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and its RA-related determinants have not been explored.
Methods
Men and women with RA were compared to non-RA controls from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. Participants underwent anthropometric measures and quantification of visceral and subcutaneous fat areas (VFA, SFA) using abdominal computed tomography.
Results
A total of 131 RA patients were compared with 121 controls. Despite similar body mass index and waist circumference between the RA and control groups, the adjusted mean VFA was 45cm2 higher (+51%) for RA vs. control men (p=0.005) but not significantly different by RA status in women. The adjusted mean SFA was 119cm2 higher (+68%) for RA vs. control women (p<0.001) but not significantly different by RA status in men. Elevated VFA (>75th percentile) was associated with a significantly higher adjusted probability of having an elevated fasting glucose, hypertension, or the composite definition of the metabolic syndrome for the RA group compared with controls. Within the RA group, rheumatoid factor seropositivity and higher cumulative prednisone exposure were significantly associated with a higher mean adjusted VFA. Higher C-reactive protein levels and lower Sharp scores were significantly associated with both VFA and SFA.
Conclusions
The distribution of abdominal fat differs significantly by RA status. Higher VFA in men with RA, and the more potent association of VFA with cardiometabolic risk factors in men and women with RA, may contribute to cardiovascular risk in RA populations.
doi:10.1002/art.27629
PMCID: PMC2962724  PMID: 20589684
24.  Correlates of kidney stone disease differ by race in a multi-ethnic middle aged population: The ARIC Study 
Preventive medicine  2010;51(5):416-420.
Objective
To identify correlates of kidney stone disease in white and African American men and women in a population-based longitudinal study starting in four US communities, and to assess differences in correlates across racial groups.
Methods
12,161 middle-aged participants of the ARIC Study provided information on history of kidney stone disease between 1993–1995. Information on incident kidney stone-related hospitalizations was obtained from ICD-codes on hospital discharge records.
Results
Kidney stone disease was reported by 12.0% of men and 4.8% of women. After multivariable adjustment, prevalent kidney stone disease was significantly (p<0.05) associated with male gender (PR=2.50), increased serum triglycerides (PR=1.07 per SD increase), diabetes (PR=1.27), gallstone disease (PR=1.54), white race (PR= 1.67), and region of residence. Male gender (HR=1.70), diabetes (HR=1.98) and hypertension (HR=1.69) were significantly associated (p<0.05) with incident kidney stone-related hospitalizations (n=94). Race-stratified analyses showed stronger associations of prevalent kidney stone disease with increased triglycerides, older age, and gallstone disease in African Americans compared to whites, whereas male gender showed stronger association in whites (all p-interaction<0.05).
Conclusion
We identified novel correlates of kidney stone disease (triglycerides, gallstone disease) and risk factor interactions by race (age, male gender, triglycerides, gallstone disease).
doi:10.1016/j.ypmed.2010.08.011
PMCID: PMC2964449  PMID: 20801154
Kidney stones; risk factors; epidemiology
25.  The Epidemiology of Subclavian Stenosis and its Association with Markers of Subclinical Atherosclerosis: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) 
Atherosclerosis  2010;211(1):266-270.
Background
Recent studies indicate that subclavian stenosis (SS), diagnosed by a large systolic blood pressure difference (SBPD) between the right and left brachial arteries, is associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors and outcomes. We sought to describe the epidemiology of SS and determine its association with markers of subclinical CVD in the baseline cohort of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis.
Methods
We defined SS by an absolute SBPD ≥15 mmHg. Peripheral artery disease (PAD) was defined by an ankle-brachial index ≤0.90. The coronary artery calcium score (CAC) and the common-carotid artery intima-media thickness (CCA-IMT) were measured by computed tomography and B-mode ultrasound, respectively. Odds ratios for the associations of SS with risk factors and subclinical disease were estimated using logistic regression.
Results
Of 6,743 subjects studied, 307 participants (4.6%) had SS, with a higher prevalence in women (5.1%) than men (3.9%), and in African-Americans (7.4%) and non-Hispanic whites (5.1%) than Hispanic (1.9%) or Chinese (1.0%) participants (p<0.01). In a model including age, gender, ethnicity, traditional and novel CVD risk factors, significant associations with SS were observed for C-reactive protein (highest vs. three lower quartiles: OR=1.41; 95%CI: 1.06-1.87) and brachial artery pulse pressure (OR=1.12 /10 mmHg; 95%CI: 1.03-1.21). Adjusted for age, gender, ethnicity, traditional and novel CVD risk factors, SS was significantly associated with PAD (OR=2.35; 1.55-3.56), with CCA-IMT (highest vs. the lower three quartiles: OR=1.32; 1.00-1.75), and high CAC (score >100 vs. score=0; OR=1.43; 1.03-2.01).
Conclusions
The subclavian stenosis is positively associated with other markers of subclinical atherosclerosis.
doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2010.01.013
PMCID: PMC2925848  PMID: 20138280
subclavian artery; blood pressure; atherosclerosis; epidemiology

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