Prevalence and determinants of carotid atherosclerosis in a general population.
The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of asymptomatic carotid atherosclerotic lesions and their relation to principal risk factors. The importance of the relation between asymptomatic carotid atherosclerotic lesions, stroke, and coronary atherosclerosis has been widely discussed, but there are few transversal and longitudinal studies on a general population.
A noninvasive examination was carried out using high-resolution B-mode ultrasonography, which has been shown to be a reliable tool for epidemiological studies. We examined 630 men and 718 women aged 18-99 years (participation rate, 74.9%).
The global prevalence of carotid atherosclerosis was 25.4% in men and 26.4% in women. Intimal-medial thickening was found in 9.4% of men and 11.7% of women. Plaque prevalence was 13.3% in men and 13.4% in women; prevalence of stenotic plaques was 2.7% and 1.5%, respectively. Subjects aged < or = 39 years showed a very low prevalence of any asymptomatic carotid atherosclerotic lesions. In the multiple logistic regression, the analysis of subjects aged > or = 40 years showed a positive significant association between the severity of carotid atherosclerotic lesions (plaques and stenosis) and age (p < 0.001), systolic blood pressure (p < 0.01), cigarette smoking (p < 0.0001), and the protective effect of high density lipoprotein cholesterol (p < 0.037). This analysis did not provide evidence of a clear-cut association between risk factors and intimal-medial thickening.
This population study shows the high prevalence of asymptomatic carotid atherosclerotic lesions in a general population (approximately 25% of adults) and its relation with the classic risk factors. It emphasizes the value of ultrasonography in the detection of early atherosclerotic lesions.
- Copyright © 1992 by American Heart Association