Difference in Carotid Artery Wall Structure Between Swedish and French Men at Low and High Coronary Risk
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Background and Purpose— We attempted to detect a group-specific north-south difference in carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT), a marker of subsequent cardiovascular complication, by means of a case (high risk)–control (low risk) study in French and Swedish men.
Methods— The selection of high-risk and low-risk subjects was performed within the lower and upper percentiles of the Framingham risk distribution of 2 samples of 1000 white, male auto workers (45 to 50 years of age) in France (Renault) and Sweden (Volvo). In total, 299 men at low risk (79 French, 76 Swedish) and high risk (61 French, 83 Swedish), free from sustained hypertension, definite hypercholesterolemia, and cardiovascular disease, were included. Both common carotid arteries, by ultrasonography and central off-line computerized analysis, provided measurements of far wall media thickness, lumen diameter, and cross-sectional area IMT (CSA-IMT).
Results— As compared with low-risk status, high-risk status was associated with higher IMT (P<0.001), diameter (P<0.01), and CSA-IMT (P<0.001) in French men and higher CSA-IMT (P<0.05) in Swedish men. IMT, diameter, and CSA-IMT were higher in Swedish than in French men in the low-risk group (P<0.001) and in the high-risk group (P<0.01, P<0.001, P<0.001). The multivariate analysis of the whole population showed that IMT, diameter, and CSA-IMT were associated with risk status (P<0.01, P<0.01, P<0.001) and geographic status (P<0.001).
Conclusions— These findings show that the geographic status influences carotid artery structure independent of traditional cardiovascular risk factors and that this may affect the mortality and morbidity gradient between Northern and Southern Europe.
- Received December 28, 2000.
- Revision received April 4, 2001.
- Accepted May 3, 2001.