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Circulation. 1995 Aug 15;92(4):720-6.

Subclinical disease as an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

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Department of Epidemiology, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA.



The primary aim of the present study was to determine the relation between measures of subclinical cardiovascular disease and the incidence of clinical cardiovascular disease among 5201 adults 65 years of age or older who were participating in the Cardiovascular Health Study.


A new method of classifying subclinical disease at baseline examination in the Cardiovascular Health Study included measures of ankle-brachial blood pressure, carotid artery stenosis and wall thickness, ECG and echocardiographic abnormalities, and positive response to the Rose Angina and Claudication Questionnaire. Participants were followed for an average of 2.39 years (maximum, 3 years). For participants without evidence of clinical cardiovascular disease at baseline, the presence of subclinical disease compared with no subclinical disease was associated with a significant increased risk of incident total coronary heart disease including CHD deaths and nonfatal MI and angina pectoris for both men and women. For individuals with subclinical disease, the increased risk of total coronary heart disease was 2.0 for men and 2.5 for women, and the increased risk of total mortality was 2.9 for men and 1.7 for women. The increased risk changed little after adjustment for other risk factors, including lipoprotein levels, blood pressure, smoking, and diabetes.


The measurement of subclinical disease provides an approach for identifying high-risk older individuals who may be candidates for more active intervention to prevent clinical disease.

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