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Stroke. 2011 Nov;42(11):3075-9. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.111.623157. Epub 2011 Sep 22.

Carotid intima-media thickness, electrocardiographic left ventricular hypertrophy, and incidence of intracerebral hemorrhage.

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Division of Epidemiology & Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, 1300 South 2nd Street, Suite 300, Minneapolis, MN 55454, USA.



Carotid intima-media thickness and electrocardiographic left ventricular hypertrophy are 2 subclinical cardiovascular disease measures associated with increased risk of total and ischemic strokes. Increased intima-media thickness and electrocardiographic left ventricular hypertrophy also may reflect end-organ hypertensive effects. Information is scant on the associations of these subclinical measures with intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH). We hypothesized that greater carotid intima-media thickness and the presence of electrocardiographic left ventricular hypertrophy would be independently associated with increased ICH incidence.


Among 18,155 participants initially free of stroke in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study (ARIC) and the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS), we assessed carotid intima-media thickness, carotid plaque, and electrocardiographic left ventricular hypertrophy. Over a median of 18 years of follow-up, 162 incident ICH events occurred.


After adjustment for other ICH risk factors, carotid intima-media thickness was associated positively with incidence of ICH in both ARIC and CHS. The risk was lowest in study-specific Quartile 1, elevated 1.6- to 2.6-fold in Quartiles 2 to 3, and elevated 2.5 to 3.7-fold in Quartile 4 (P<0.05 for both studies). In CHS, having a carotid plaque was associated with a 2-fold (95% CI, 1.1-3.4) greater ICH risk than having no plaque, but only 1.2-fold (95% CI, 0.76-2.0) greater ICH risk in ARIC. Electrocardiographic left ventricular hypertrophy carried a hazard ratio of ICH of 1.7 (95% CI, 0.77-3.7) in CHS and 2.8 (95% CI, 1.2-6.4) in ARIC.


Our data suggest that people with carotid atherosclerosis and possibly left ventricular hypertrophy are at increased risk not only of ischemic stroke, but also of ICH.

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