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Atherosclerosis. 2011 Aug;217(2):441-6. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2011.05.022. Epub 2011 May 27.

Carotid artery intima-media thickness in college students: race/ethnicity matters.

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  • 1University of Southern California, Dept of Preventive Medicine, Los Angeles, CA, United States.



Racial/ethnic differences in common carotid artery intima-media thickness (CIMT) and in risk factors associated with CIMT have been predominantly observed in middle-aged and older individuals. We aimed to characterize racial/ethnic differences CIMT and other cardiovascular risk factors in a healthy, young-adult population.


College students were recruited as part of a study to characterize determinants of atherogenesis. Students were eligible if they were lifetime non-smokers, lived in the United States since six months of age, and attended high school in the United States. Blood pressure, heart rate, height, and weight were measured, B-mode carotid ultrasound was performed, questionnaires were administered and a 12-h fasting blood sample was collected. Associations between CIMT and other variables were assessed in 768 students aged 18-25 years using linear regression analysis.


In models adjusted for common cardiovascular risk factors, sex exhibited the strongest influence on CIMT, with men having 15.4 μm larger CIMT compared to women (95%CI 6.6, 24.2). Race/ethnicity was also strongly associated with CIMT. African Americans had 17.3 μm greater CIMT (95%CI -0.3, 34.8) compared to non Hispanic Whites, whereas Asians and Hispanic Whites had 14.3 (95%CI -24.3, -4.4) and 15.4 (95%CI -26.2, -4.7) μm smaller CIMT, respectively. BMI and systolic blood pressure were positively associated with CIMT.


The risk factors associated with atherogenesis later in life are already present and observable in college-aged young adults, so targeted campaigns to reduce life-long cardiovascular disease burden should be initiated earlier in life to improve public health.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

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