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Angiology. 1999 Aug;50(8):649-54.

Atherosclerotic lesions are more frequent in femoral arteries than in carotid arteries independent of increasing number of risk factors.

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Klinik für Angiologie, Universität Essen, Germany.


The authors investigated the prevalence of atherosclerotic lesions in carotid and femoral arteries in people with varying risk factors. They searched for differences in the region of manifestation of atherosclerosis due to different risk factors. Over 5 years they investigated 4,200 people (2,600 men, 1,600 women aged 20 to 70 years) who reported feeling healthy. They did a B-mode sonography of the internal, external, and common carotid artery; and the common, the proximal superficial, and profundal femoral artery. They questioned the people regarding hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes mellitus, and smoking habits. Isolated carotid artery atherosclerosis was found in 2.8% of the men and 1.6% of the women; 10.9% of the men and 4.4% of the women had isolated femoral artery lesions. A combination of atherosclerotic lesions in both arteries was present in 8.3% of the men and 4.0% of the women. When only one risk factor was present atherosclerotic lesions of the femoral arteries were predominant. Diffuse atherosclerosis dominated with increasing number of risk factors. The rate of people with isolated carotid atherosclerosis was highest when no risk factor was present and decreased to a fixed rate of 12% to 17% independent of the number of risk factors. An increasing number of risk factors can be associated with a diffuse manifestation of atherosclerotic lesions. However, there are a certain number of people who demonstrate only carotid artery or femoral artery atherosclerosis independent of the number of risk factors.

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