Carotid atherosclerosis, coronary atherosclerosis and carotid intima-media thickness in patients with ischemic cerebral disease: Is there any link?

Petar Nikic, Milan Savic, Vladimir Jakovljevic, Dragan Djuric
Experimental and Clinical Cardiology 2006, 11 (2): 102-6

OBJECTIVES: The present study examined the association between carotid atherosclerosis, coronary atherosclerosis and common carotid artery intima-media thickness (CCA-IMT) in patients with incident ischemic stroke and its subtypes (75 cases and 21 controls).

METHODS: Cases with ischemic brain infarctions (IBIs) were consecutively recruited and classified into subtypes by computed tomography and Bamford's classification (the size and site of the infarct) as one of the following: total anterior circulation infarcts (TACIs); partial anterior circulation infarcts (PACIs); posterior circulation infarcts (POCIs); and lacunar infarcts. Controls were recruited among individuals hospitalized for a reason other than cerebrovascular disease at the same institutions and matched for age and sex. Patients and controls underwent B-mode ultrasonographic measurements of CCA-IMT, and were evaluated by a qualified internist and neurologist for the presence of ischemic coronary disease and a history of previous stroke or transient ischemic attack.

RESULTS: Of the 75 patients with an acute ischemic stroke, 10 (14%) were classified as TACIs, 34 (45%) as PACIs, 12 (16%) as POCIs and 19 (25%) as lacunar infarcts. Mean CCA-IMT was higher in patients (1.03+/-0.18 mm) than in controls (0.85+/-0.18 mm; P<0.0001). The history of cerebrovascular disease was much lower in the patients with POCI and TACI, and the prevalence of ischemic cardiac disease was in the range of 20% in patients with TACIs to more than 40% in patients with PACIs.

CONCLUSIONS: An increased CCA-IMT as a marker of general atherosclerosis was associated with IBI and reflects cardiovascular risk. Carotid and coronary atherosclerosis were positively correlated with IBIs, with significant differences across the subtypes.

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