Atherosclerotic Plaques in the Aortic Arch and Subclinical Cerebrovascular Disease
Background and Purpose—Aortic arch plaque (AAP) is a risk factor for ischemic stroke, but its association with subclinical cerebrovascular disease is not established. We investigated the association between AAP and subclinical cerebrovascular disease in an elderly stroke-free community-based cohort.
Methods—The CABL study (Cardiovascular Abnormalities and Brain Lesions) was designed to investigate cardiovascular predictors of silent cerebrovascular disease in the elderly. AAPs were assessed by suprasternal transthoracic echocardiography in 954 participants. Silent brain infarcts and white matter hyperintensity volume (WMHV) were assessed by brain magnetic resonance imaging. The association of AAP thickness with silent brain infarcts and WMHV was evaluated by logistic regression analysis.
Results—Mean age was 71.6±9.3 years; 63% were women. AAP was present in 658 (69%) subjects. Silent brain infarcts were detected in 138 participants (14.5%). In multivariate analysis adjusted for potential confounders, AAP thickness and large AAP (≥4 mm in thickness) were significantly associated with the upper quartile of WMHV (WMHV-Q4; odds ratio =1.17; 95% confidence interval, 1.04–1.32; P=0.009 and odds ratio =1.79; 95% confidence interval, 1.40–3.09; P=0.036, respectively), but not with silent brain infarcts (odds ratio =1.08; 95% confidence interval, 0.94–1.23; P=0.265 and odds ratio =1.46; 95% confidence interval, 0.77–2.77; P=0.251, respectively).
Conclusions—Aortic arch atherosclerosis was associated with WMHV in a stroke-free community-based elderly cohort. This association was stronger in subjects with large plaques and independent of cardiovascular risk factors. Aortic arch assessment by transthoracic echocardiography may help identify subjects at higher risk of subclinical cerebrovascular disease, who may benefit from aggressive stroke risk factors treatment.
- Received August 2, 2016.
- Revision received September 1, 2016.
- Accepted September 7, 2016.
- © 2016 American Heart Association, Inc.