Carotid intima-media thickness and risk of cardiovascular events in high-risk patients. Results of the Osaka Follow-Up Study for Carotid Atherosclerosis 2 (OSACA2 Study)

Kazuo Kitagawa, Hidetaka Hougaku, Hiroshi Yamagami, Hiroyuki Hashimoto, Taiji Itoh, Yoshiomi Shimizu, Daisuke Takahashi, Shinji Murata, Yujiro Seike, Kimito Kondo, Taku Hoshi, Shigetaka Furukado, Yuko Abe, Yoshiki Yagita, Manabu Sakaguchi, Masafumi Tagaya, Hideki Etani, Ryuzo Fukunaga, Yoji Nagai, Masayasu Matsumoto, Masatsugu Hori
Cerebrovascular Diseases 2007, 24 (1): 35-42

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: There is epidemiological evidence that increased carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) is a predictor of cardiovascular disease (CVD) events. However, the significance of carotid IMT in high-risk patients in whom risk factors are managed clinically has not been adequately investigated. The purpose of this study was to determine the usefulness of carotid IMT measurement in such patients.

METHODS: The study comprised 900 outpatients with cardiovascular risk factors or established atherosclerosis. Carotid IMT was calculated as the mean bilateral IMT of the common carotid artery, bifurcation, and internal carotid artery. Baseline vascular risk factors, medications, and history of CVD were recorded at the time of enrollment. The incidence of CVD events was determined prospectively.

RESULTS: During a mean follow-up period of 2.6 years, there were 64 CVD events. The relative risk (RR) of a CVD event increased with increased IMT. Association between CVD events and carotid IMT was significant after adjustment for risk factors and history of CVD, showing an increased risk per IMT tertile from the middle tertile (RR, 2.5; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.0-6.3) to the highest (RR, 3.6; 95% CI: 1.4-9.0). When patients with a history of CVD were excluded (n = 574), the predictive value of IMT was significant even after adjustment for risk factors (hazard ratio per 1 SD IMT increase was 1.57 [95% CI: 1.11-2.20]).

CONCLUSIONS: Carotid IMT is an independent predictor of vascular events in high-risk patients in whom risk factors are managed clinically.

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