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Cerebrovasc Dis. 2009;27(5):472-8. doi: 10.1159/000210093. Epub 2009 Mar 28.

The progression of carotid intima-media thickness in healthy men.

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  • 1Neurologie, Flugmedizinisches Institut der Luftwaffe, F├╝rstenfeldbruck , Germany.



Carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) measurements are increasingly used as an intermediate outcome for vascular risk. The study aim was to evaluate segment-specific IMT progression rates and their relationship to vascular risk factors compared with baseline measurements in a healthy population.


In a population of healthy male military pilots (n = 1,258) IMT of the common carotid artery and of the bifurcation and vascular risk factors were evaluated at baseline and serially with an annual follow-up for a period of 5 years.


Complete baseline and follow-up data were available for 1,258 subjects. Progression of the carotid IMT at the common carotid artery was significantly associated with age, body mass index, smoking status and erythrocyte sedimentation rate, whereas progression of IMT at the carotid bifurcation was significantly associated with age, body mass index, diastolic blood pressure and negatively associated with physical working capacity.


IMT progression is segment-specific and governed by a different risk factor composition. Physical exercise can slow IMT progression at the carotid bifurcation.

Copyright 2009 S. Karger AG, Basel.

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