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Atherosclerosis. 2011 Feb;214(2):436-41. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2010.09.011. Epub 2010 Sep 18.

Abdominal aortic calcium and multi-site atherosclerosis: the Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis.

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Department of Medicine, University of CA, Irvine, CA 92697-4101, United States.



Abdominal aortic calcification (AAC) is a measure of subclinical cardiovascular disease (CVD). Data are limited regarding its relation to other measures of atherosclerosis.


Among 1812 subjects (49% female, 21% black, 14% Chinese, and 25% Hispanic) within the population-based Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, we examined the cross-sectional relation of AAC with coronary artery calcium (CAC), ankle brachial index (ABI), and carotid intimal medial thickness (CIMT), as well as multiple measures of subclinical CVD.


AAC prevalence ranged from 34% in those aged 45-54 to 94% in those aged 75-84 (p < 0.0001), was highest in Caucasians (79%) and lowest in blacks (62%) (p < 0.0001). CAC prevalence, mean maximum CIMT ≥ 1mm, and ABI < 0.9 was greater in those with vs. without AAC: CAC 60% vs. 16%, CIMT 38% vs. 7%, and ABI 5% vs. 1% for women and CAC 80% vs. 37%, CIMT 43% vs. 16%, and ABI 4% vs. 2% for men (p < 0.01 for all except p < 0.05 for ABI in men). The substantially greater prevalence for CAC in men compared to women all ages is not seen for AAC. By age 65, 97% of men and 91% of women have AAC, CAC, increased CIMT, and/or low ABI. The presence of multi-site atherosclerosis (≥ 3 of the above) ranged from 20% in women to 30% in men (p < 0.001), was highest in Caucasians (28%) and lowest in Chinese (16%) and ranged from 5% in those aged 45-54 to 53% in those aged 75-84 (p < 0.01 to p < 0.001). Finally, increased AAC was associated with 2-3-old relative risks for the presence of increased CIMT, low ABI, or CAC.


AAC is associated with an increased likelihood of other vascular atherosclerosis. Its additive prognostic value to these other measures is of further interest.

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