Carotid artery intima-media thickness in Finnish families with familial combined hyperlipidemia

Kati Ylitalo, Mikko Syvänne, Riitta Salonen, Ilpo Nuotio, Marja-Riitta Taskinen, Jukka T Salonen
Atherosclerosis 2002, 162 (1): 171-8

BACKGROUND: Familial combined hyperlipidemia (FCHL) is the most common hereditary lipid disorder that predisposes the patients to premature coronary heart disease. Members of FCHL families are categorised as affected or unaffected according to serum lipid levels. This study is aimed to evaluate whether there is a difference in carotid artery wall thickness between asymptomatic FCHL family members who are affected and those who are unaffected according to the currently used lipid criteria.

METHODS AND RESULTS: Carotid artery ultrasonography with intima-media thickness (IMT) measurements was performed for 148 members of 39 Finnish FCHL families. Study subjects who had no history of coronary heart disease or stroke were divided into two groups according to their serum total cholesterol and/or triglyceride levels. The average carotid IMT of the affected subjects (0.75+/-0.15 mm) was not significantly different from that of their unaffected relatives (0.73+/-0.13 mm), P=0.90. In multivariate analysis, age, gender, and pulse pressure, but no lipid variables, contributed significantly to the variation of carotid IMT.

CONCLUSIONS: The IMT findings in FCHL family members indicate that the current lipid criteria alone are of limited value in predicting long-term risk of cardiovascular disease in asymptomatic members of FCHL families.

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