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1.  Relationship of Carotid Distensibility and Thoracic Aorta Calcification: Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) 
Hypertension  2009;54(6):1408-1415.
Stiffening of the central elastic arteries is one of the earliest detectable manifestations of adverse change within the vessel wall. While an association between carotid artery stiffness and adverse events has been demonstrated, little is known about the relationship between stiffness and atherosclerosis. Even less is known about the impact of age, gender, and race on this association. To elucidate this question, we used baseline data from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA, 2000-2002). Carotid artery distensibility coefficient (DC) was calculated after visualization of the instantaneous waveform of common carotid diameter using high resolution B-mode ultrasound. Thoracic aorta calcification (TAC) was identified using non-contrast cardiac CT. We found a strong association between decreasing DC (increasing carotid stiffness) and increasing TAC as well as a graded increase in TAC score (p<0.001). After controlling for age, gender, race, and traditional and emerging cardiovascular risk factors, individuals in the stiffest quartile had a prevalence ratio of 1.52 (95% CI 1.15-2.00) for TAC compared to the least stiff quartile. In exploratory analysis, carotid stiffness was more highly correlated with calcification of the aorta than calcification of the coronary arteries (ρ=0.32 vs. 0.22, p<0.001 for comparison). In conclusion, there is a strong independent association between carotid stiffness and thoracic aorta calcification. Carotid stiffness is more highly correlated with calcification of the aorta, a central elastic artery, than calcification of the coronary arteries. The prognostic significance of these findings requires longitudinal follow-up of the MESA cohort.
PMCID: PMC4118641  PMID: 19805639
Carotid stiffness; carotid compliance; subclinical atherosclerosis; thoracic aorta calcification; coronary calcification
2.  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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3163306  PMID: 19910544
Carotid Intimal Medial Thickness; Risk Factors; Carotid Ultrasound
3.  Associations of factor VIIIc, D-dimer and plasmin-antiplasmin with incident cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality 
American journal of hematology  2009;84(6):349-353.
To examine the associations of three understudied hemostatic factors – D-dimer, factor VIIIc, and antiplasmin (PAP) complex -- with incident CVD and all cause mortality in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) cohort. Hemostatic factors were measured at baseline in 45–84 year olds (n =6,391) who were free of clinically recognized CVD. Over 4.6 years of follow-up, we identified 307 CVD events, 207 hard coronary heart disease (CHD) events, and 210 deaths. D-dimer, factor VIIIc, and PAP were not associated with CVD incidence after adjustment for other risk factors. In contrast, each factor was associated positively with total mortality, and D-dimer and factor VIIIc were associated positively with cancer mortality. When modeled as ordinal variables and adjusted for risk factors, total mortality was greater by 33% (95% CI = 15–54%) for each quartile increment of D-dimer, 26% (11–44%) for factor VIIIc, and 20% (4–38%) for PAP. This prospective cohort study did not find D-dimer, factor VIIIc, or PAP to be risk factors for CVD. Instead, elevated levels of these three hemostatic factors were associated independently with increased risk of death. Elevated D-dimer and factor VIIIc were associated with increased cancer death.
PMCID: PMC2950108  PMID: 19472201
cancer; cardiovascular disease; CHD; D-dimer; factor VIII; plasmin-antiplasmin
4.  Individual pathogens, pathogen burden, and markers of subclinical atherosclerosis: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
We examined the cross-sectional relationships of subclinical atherosclerosis – expressed by carotid intimal–medial thickness and coronary calcification – with antibodies to Chlamydia pneumoniae, Helicobacter pylori, cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex virus, hepatitis A virus, and pathogen burden (number of positive pathogens). A random sample of 1056 individuals chosen from 5030 Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis cohort participants were included. After multiple adjustment, no associations were found between atherosclerosis measures and either individual pathogens or pathogen burden. Interactions with inflammatory and endothelial function markers, demographic factors, BMI, high-density lipoprotein, diabetes, and smoking were also explored. The only interaction that was large, qualitative, statistically significant (P < 0.05) and in the expected direction was that between hepatitis A virus and soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 with regard to Agatston calcium score: the difference between hepatitis A virus-positive and hepatitis A virus-negative participants was −86 units in participants with soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 below the median, and +162 units in those with soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1 equal or above the median. However, given the number of interactions that were explored, these results must be interpreted cautiously.
Findings from the present analyses do not provide support for an infectious etiology for subclinical atherosclerosis. However, the study’s limitations, which include its cross-sectional design and insufficient statistical power, suggest that inferences from its findings should be made cautiously.
PMCID: PMC2732746  PMID: 19444130
atherosclerosis; infections; pathogens
5.  Do socioeconomic gradients in subclinical atherosclerosis vary according to acculturation level? Analyses of Mexican-Americans in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Psychosomatic medicine  2009;71(7):756-762.
Although socioeconomic position (SEP) shows a consistent, inverse relationship with cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk in westernized non-Hispanic white populations, the relationship in ethnic minorities, including Hispanics, is often weak or even reversed (i.e., worse health with higher SEP). In the current study, we examined whether the association between SEP and subclinical atherosclerosis in Mexican Americans would be moderated by acculturation.
Participants were 801 Hispanics of Mexican origin (49.6% female; average age 60.47 years) from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis cohort who underwent computed tomography of the chest for coronary artery calcium (CAC) and thoracic aortic calcium (TAC). SEP was represented by a composite of self-reported education and income. Acculturation was a composite score including language spoken at home, generation, and years of “exposure” to U.S. culture.
Small, but statistically significant SEP by acculturation interaction effects were identified in relation to prevalent CAC, prevalent TAC, and extent of TAC (all p < .05). Follow-up analyses revealed that the direction of the SEP gradient on detectable CAC changed as individuals progressed from low to high acculturation. Specifically, the association between SEP and calcification was positive at low levels of acculturation (i.e., a “reversed” gradient), and negative in circumstances of high acculturation (i.e., the expected, protective effect of higher SEP).
The findings support the utility of examining SEP and acculturation simultaneously, and of disaggregating large ethnic groupings (e.g., “Hispanic”) into meaningful subgroups to better understand health risks.
PMCID: PMC2761426  PMID: 19661194
Acculturation; calcification; coronary artery disease; Hispanics; socioeconomic status
6.  Predictive Value of Brachial Flow-Mediated Dilation for Incident Cardiovascular Events in a Population-Based Study: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Circulation  2009;120(6):502-509.
Although brachial artery flow-mediated dilation (FMD) predicts recurrent cardiovascular events, its predictive value for incident cardiovascular disease (CVD) events in adults free of CVD is not well established. We assessed the predictive value of FMD for incident CVD events in the Multi Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA).
Methods and Results
Brachial artery FMD was measured in a nested case- cohort sample of 3026 out of 6814 subjects (mean ± SD age 61.2 ± 9.9 years), in MESA, a population-based cohort study of adults free of clinical CV disease at baseline recruited at six clinic sites in the USA. The sample comprised 50.2% females, 34.3% Caucasian, 19.7% Chinese, 20.8% African Americans and 25.1% Hispanics. Probability-weighted Cox proportional hazard analysis was used to examine the association between FMD and five years of adjudicated incident CVD events, including incident myocardial infarction, definite angina, coronary revascularization (coronary artery bypass grafting, percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty or other revascularization), stroke, resuscitated cardiac arrest and CVD death.
Mean (SD) FMD of the cohort was 4.4 (2.8) %. In probability-weighted Cox models, FMD/unit SD was significantly associated with incident cardiovascular events in both the univariate(adjusted for age and gender) [hazard ratio; 0.79(95% CI, 0.65–0.97), p=0.01], after adjusting for the Framingham Risk Score (FRS) [hazard ratio; 0.80(95%CI, 0.62–0.97), p=0.025] and also in multivariable models [hazard ratio; 0.84(95%CI, 0.71–0.99), p=0.04] after adjusting for age, gender, diabetes mellitus, cigarette smoking status, systolic blood pressure, HDL, LDL, triglycerides, heart rate, statin use and blood pressure medication use. The c statistic (AUC) of FMD, FRS, FRS + FMD) were 0.65, 0.74 and 0.74 respectively. Compared with the FRS alone, the addition of FMD to the FRS net correctly re-classifies 52% of subjects with no incident CVD event, but net incorrectly reclassifies 23% of subjects with an incident CVD event; an overall net correct re-classification of 29% (p < 0.001).
Brachial FMD is a predictor of incident cardiovascular events in population based adults. Even though the addition of FMD to the FRS did not improve discrimination of subjects at risk of CVD events in ROC analysis, it did improve the classification of subjects as low, intermediate and high CVD risk compared to the FRS.
PMCID: PMC2740975  PMID: 19635967
Endothelial dysfunction; brachial flow-mediated dilation; incident cardiovascular event; healthy adults
7.  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.
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).
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).
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.
PMCID: PMC2749947  PMID: 19498184
Carotid Intimal Medial Thickness; Endothelium; Epidemiology; Risk Factors; Nitric Oxide
8.  The HMG-CoA reductase gene and lipid and lipoprotein levels: the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis 
Lipids  2009;44(8):733-743.
HMG-CoA reductase (HMGCR) is an enzyme involved in cholesterol synthesis. To investigate the contribution of the HMGCR gene to lipids and lipoprotein subfraction in different ethnicities, we performed an association study in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Totally, 2444 MESA subjects (597 African-Americans (AA), 627 Chinese-Americans (CHA), 612 European-Americans (EA), and 608 Hispanic-Americans (HA)) without statin use were included. Participants had measurements of blood pressure, anthropometry, and fasting blood samples. Subjects were genotyped for 10 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). After excluding SNPs with minor allele frequency <5%, a single block was constructed. The most frequent haplotype was H1 (41-56%) in all ethnic groups except AA (H2a, 44.9%). Lower triglyceride level was associated with the H2a haplotype in AA and H2 in HA. In HA, H4 carriers had higher levels of triglyceride and small low-density lipoprotein (s-LDL), and lower high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-c), while carriers with H7 or H8 had associations with these traits in the opposite direction. No significant association was discovered in both CHA and EA. The total variation for triglyceride that could be explained by H2 alone was 2.6% in HA and 1.4% in AA. In conclusion, HMGCR gene variation is associated with multiple lipid/lipoprotein traits, especially with triglyceride, s-LDL, and HDL-c. The impact of the genetic variance is modest and differs greatly between ethnicities.
PMCID: PMC2760058  PMID: 19554360
hydroxymethylglutaryl CoA reductases; association study; cholesterol; triglyceride; low density lipoprotein size
9.  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.
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.
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.
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.
PMCID: PMC2705324  PMID: 19265054
Carotid atherosclerosis; brain MRI; cognitive performance

Results 1-9 (9)