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Am J Epidemiol. 1996 Nov 1;144(9):857-66.

Association of transient ischemic attack/stroke symptoms assessed by standardized questionnaire and algorithm with cerebrovascular risk factors and carotid artery wall thickness. The ARIC Study, 1987-1989.

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  • 1Department of Biostatistics, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 27514-4145, USA.


The baseline examination (1987-1989) for the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study was conducted in 15,792 free-living residents aged 45-64 years in four geographically dispersed US communities. A questionnaire on symptoms of transient ischemic attack (TIA) and stroke was evaluated by computer algorithm for 12,205 of these participants. Data were also collected on lipoprotein levels, hemostasis, hematology, anthropometry, blood pressure, medical history, lifestyle, socioeconomic status, and medication use. Noninvasive high resolution B-mode ultrasonographic imaging was used to determine carotid arterial intimal-medial wall thickness (IMT). The cross-sectional relation between the prevalence of TIA/stroke symptoms and putative risk factors was assessed by logistic regression, controlling for age and community. Odds ratios for TIA/stroke symptoms were significantly elevated (p < or = 0.01) for diabetes mellitus, current smoking, hypertension, lower levels of education, income, and work activity, and higher levels of lipoprotein(a), IMT, hemostasis factor VIII, and von Willebrand factor. However, the relations with education and carotid IMT were not present for black Americans. In whites, the relations of TIA/stroke symptoms to IMT were nonlinear. Only at extreme levels of IMT were symptoms substantially more frequent: For example, men with an IMT greater than 1.17 mm or women with an IMT greater than 0.85 mm had approximately twice the odds of having positive TIA/stroke symptoms as those with lower IMTs. The authors plan in future analyses to address the issue prospectively, as well as to examine the relation with magnetic resonance imaging-defined outcomes and clinically defined incident stroke.

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