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1.  Common carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT) progression as a predictor of stroke in MESA (Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis) 
Background
Carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT) is a marker of cardiovascular disease associated with incident stroke. We study whether IMT rate-of-change is associated with stroke.
Materials and Methods
We studied 5028 participants of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) composed of whites, Chinese, Hispanic and African-Americans free of cardiovascular disease. In this MESA IMT progression study, IMT rate-of-change (mm/year) was the difference in right common carotid artery (CCA) far-wall IMT (mm) divided by the interval between two ultrasound examinations (median interval of 32 months). CCA IMT was measured in a region free of plaque. Cardiovascular risk factors and baseline IMT were determined when IMT rate-of-change was measured. Multivariable Cox proportional hazards models generated Hazard risk Ratios (HR) with cardiovascular risk factors, ethnicity and education level/income as predictors.
Results
There were 42 first time strokes seen during a mean follow-up of 3.22 years (median 3.0 years). Average age was 64.2 years, with 48% males. In multivariable models, age (HR: 1.05 per year), systolic blood pressure (HR 1.02 per mmHg), lower HDL cholesterol levels (HR: 0.96 per mg/dL) and IMT rate-of-change (HR 1.23 per 0.05 mm/year; 95% C.L. 1.02, 1.48) were significantly associated with incident stroke. The upper quartile of IMT rate-of-change had an HR of 2.18 (95% C.L.: 1.07, 4.46) compared to the lower three quartiles combined.
Conclusion
Common carotid artery IMT progression is associated with incident stroke in this cohort free of prevalent cardiovascular disease and atrial fibrillation at baseline.
doi:10.1161/STROKEAHA.111.625186
PMCID: PMC3202068  PMID: 21885840
Ultrasonography; Risk Factors; Carotid Arteries; Carotid Intima Media Thickness; stroke
2.  Associations of edge detected and manual traced common carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) measurements with Framingham risk factors: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Background
Carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) is a marker of cardiovascular disease derived from ultrasound images of the carotid artery. In most outcome studies, human readers identify and trace the key IMT interfaces. We evaluate an alternate approach using automated edge detection.
Methods
We study a subset of 5640 participants with an average age 61.7 years (48% men) of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis composed of whites, Chinese, Hispanic and African-Americans that are part of the MESA IMT progression study. Manual tracing IMT (mt_IMT) and edge-detected IMT (ed_IMT) measurements of the far wall of the common carotid artery (CCA) served as outcome variables for multivariable linear regression models using Framingham cardiovascular risk factors and ethnicity as independent predictors.
Results
Measurements of mt_IMT was obtainable in 99.9% (5633/5640) and of ed_IMT in 98.9% (5579/5640) of individuals. Average ed_IMT was 0.19 mm larger than mt_IMT. Inter-reader systematic differences (bias) in IMT measurements were apparent for mt_IMT but not ed_IMT. Based on complete data on 5538 individuals, associations of IMT with risk factors were stronger (p < 0.0001) for mt_IMT (model r2: 19.5%) than ed_IMT (model r2: 18.5%).
Conclusion
We conclude that this edge-detection process generates IMT values equivalent to manually traced ones since it preserves key associations with cardiovascular risk factors. It also decreases inter-reader bias, potentially making it applicable for use in cardiovascular risk assessment.
doi:10.1161/STROKEAHA.110.603449
PMCID: PMC3169166  PMID: 21546477
Ultrasonography; Risk Factors; Carotid Arteries; Carotid Intima Media Thickness
3.  Segment-Specific Associations of Carotid IMT with Cardiovascular Risk Factors: The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study 
Background and Purpose
We propose to study possible differences in the associations between risk factors for cardiovascular disease (myocardial infarction and stroke) and Carotid Intima-Media thickness (IMT) measurements made at three different levels of the carotid bifurcation. Methods: Cross-sectional study of a cohort of Whites and African Americans of both genders with mean age 45 years. Traditional cardiovascular risk factors were determined in cohort members. Carotid IMT was measured from high-resolution B-mode ultrasound images at three levels: the common carotid artery (CCA), the carotid artery bulb (Bulb) and the internal carotid artery (ICA). Associations with risk factors were evaluated by multivariate linear regression analyses.
Results
Of 3258 who underwent carotid IMT measurements, CCA, Bulb, and ICA IMT were measured at all three separate levels in 3023 (92.7%). A large proportion of the variability of CCA IMT was explained by cardiovascular risk factors (26.8%) but less so for the Bulb (11.2%) and ICA (8.0%). Carotid IMT was consistently associated with age, LDL-cholesterol, smoking and hypertension in all segments. Associations with fasting glucose and diastolic blood pressure were stronger for CCA than for the other segments. Hypertension, diabetes and current smoking had qualitatively stronger associations with Bulb IMT, and LDL cholesterol with ICA IMT. Conclusion: In our cohort of relatively young white and African-American men and women, a greater proportion of the variability in common carotid IMT can be explained by traditional cardiovascular risk factors than for the carotid artery bulb and internal carotid arteries.
doi:10.1161/STROKEAHA.109.566596
PMCID: PMC3163306  PMID: 19910544
Carotid Intimal Medial Thickness; Risk Factors; Carotid Ultrasound
4.  Association of the Endogenous Nitric Oxide Synthase Inhibitor ADMA with Carotid Artery Intimal Media Thickness in the Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort 
Background and Purpose
Higher plasma concentrations of the endogenous nitric oxides synthase (NOS) inhibitor asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA) are associated with increased risk of cardio- and cerebrovascular events and death, presumably by promoting endothelial dysfunction and subclinical atherosclerosis. We hypothesized that plasma ADMA concentrations are positively related to common carotid artery intimal media thickness (CCA-IMT) and to internal carotid (ICA)/bulb-IMT.
Methods
We investigated the cross-sectional relations of plasma ADMA with CCA-IMT and ICA/bulb-IMT in 2958 Framingham Heart Study participants (mean age 58 years, 55% women).
Results
In unadjusted analyses, ADMA was positively related to both CCA-IMT (β per SD increment 0.012, p<0.001) and ICA/bulb IMT (β per SD increment 0.059, p<0.001). In multivariable analyses (adjusting for age, sex, systolic blood pressure, antihypertensive treatment, smoking status, diabetes, body mass index (BMI), Total to HDL cholesterol ratio, log C-reactive protein, and serum creatinine), plasma ADMA was not associated with CCA-IMT (p=0.991), but remained significantly and positively related to ICA/bulb IMT (β per SD increment 0.0246, p=0.002).
Conclusions
In our large community-based sample, we observed that higher plasma ADMA concentrations were associated with greater ICA/bulb-IMT but not with CCA-IMT. These data are consistent with the notion that ADMA promotes subclinical atherosclerosis in a site-specific manner, with a greater proatherogenic influence at known vulnerable sites in the arterial tree.
doi:10.1161/STROKEAHA.109.552539
PMCID: PMC2749947  PMID: 19498184
Carotid Intimal Medial Thickness; Endothelium; Epidemiology; Risk Factors; Nitric Oxide
5.  Carotid Artery Atherosclerosis, MRI Indices of Brain Ischemia and Aging and Cognitive Impairment: The Framingham Study 
Background and Purpose
Carotid atherosclerosis has been associated with increased risk of stroke, and poorer cognitive performance in older adults. The relation of carotid atherosclerosis to cognitive impairment and MRI indices of ischemia and aging in midlife is less clear.
Methods
We studied 1,975 Framingham Offspring Study participants free of stroke and dementia with available carotid ultrasound, brain MRI and neuropsychological testing. We related common and internal carotid artery intima-media thickness (ICA-IMT and CCA-IMT respectively) and internal carotid stenosis (CAS) to large white matter hyperintensity (>1-SD above age-specific mean; LWMH), total brain volume (TCBV), hippocampal volume, silent cerebral infarcts (SCI) and neuropsychological measures of verbal memory, executive function and non-verbal memory measures.
Results
We observed that ICA-IMT, but not CCA-IMT, was associated with higher prevalence of SCI (OR 1.21, 95% CI 1.03–1.43, p<0.05), LWMH (OR 1.19, 95% CI 1.03–1.38, p<0.05), lower TCBV (−0.05 per SD, p<0.05) and poorer performance in verbal memory (−0.06 per SD; p<0.05) and non-verbal memory measures (−0.08 per SD; p<0.01), but not with hippocampal volume. CAS ≥25% was associated with a higher prevalence of LWMH (adjusted OR 1.77, 95% CI 1.25–2.53) and lower TCBV (−0.11 per SD, p=0.042) but not with SCI or hippocampal volume. CAS ≥50% was associated with higher prevalence of SCI (OR 2.53, 95% CI 1.17 – 5.44), LWMH (OR 2.35, 95% CI 1.08–5.13) and poorer performance on executive function (−0.39 per SD; p<0.05) but not with TCBV or hippocampal volume.
Conclusions
Carotid atherosclerosis markers were associated with MRI indices of brain ischemia and aging and with cognitive impairment in a community-based sample of middle-aged adults. Our data suggest that ICA-IMT may be a better marker for cognitive impairment than CCA-IMT.
doi:10.1161/STROKEAHA.108.535245
PMCID: PMC2705324  PMID: 19265054
Carotid atherosclerosis; brain MRI; cognitive performance
6.  Prevalence and Correlates of Silent Cerebral Infarcts in the Framingham Offspring Study 
Background and Purpose
Prior estimates of the prevalence of silent cerebral infarction (SCI) on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in community-based samples have varied between 5.8 and 17.7% depending on age, ethnicity, presence of co-morbidities and imaging techniques. We document the prevalence and risk factors associated with SCI at midlife in the community-based Framingham sample.
Methods
2040 Framingham Offspring (53% F; mean age 62±9 yrs) who attended the 6th examination (1996–98), underwent volumetric brain MRI (1999–2005) and were free of clinical stroke at MRI, constituted our study sample. We examined the age- and sex-specific prevalence and the clinical correlates of SCI using multivariable logistic regression models.
Results
At least one SCI was present in 10.7% of participants. 84% had a single lesion. SCI were largely located in the basal ganglia (52%), other subcortical (35%) and cortical areas (11%). Prevalent SCI was associated with the Framingham Stroke Risk Profile score (OR: 1.27; 95% CI: 1.10 – 1.46); Stage I hypertension by JNC-VII criteria (OR:1.56; CI:1.15 – 2.11)), an elevated plasma homocysteine in the highest quartile (OR: 2.23; CI: 1.42 – 3.51), atrial fibrillation (OR: 2.16; CI: 1.07 – 4.40), carotid stenosis >25% (OR: 1.62; 1.13 – 2.34)) and increased carotid intimal-medial thickness above the lowest quintile (OR: 1.65; CI: 1.22 – 2.24).
Conclusion
The prevalence and distribution of SCI in the Framingham Offspring.is comparable to prior estimates. Risk factors previously associated with clinical stroke were also found to be associated with midlife SCI. Our results support current guidelines emphasizing early detection and treatment of stroke risk factors.
doi:10.1161/STROKEAHA.108.516575
PMCID: PMC2712254  PMID: 18583555
cerebral infarction; magnetic resonance imaging; risk factors; prevalence; hypertension

Results 1-6 (6)