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Stroke. 1995 Mar;26(3):386-91.

Arterial wall thickness is associated with prevalent cardiovascular disease in middle-aged adults. The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study.

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  • 1Department of Public Health Sciences, Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC 27157.



This study was done to assess the relationship between prevalent cardiovascular disease and arterial wall thickness in middle-aged US adults.


The association of preexisting coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, and peripheral vascular disease with carotid and popliteal intimal-medial thickness (IMT) (measured by B-mode ultrasound) was assessed in 13,870 black and white men and women, aged 45 to 64, during the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study baseline examination (1987 through 1989). Prevalent disease was determined according to both participant self-report and measurements at the baseline examination (including electrocardiogram, fasting blood glucose, and medication use).


Across four race and gender strata, mean carotid far wall IMT was consistently greater in participants with prevalent clinical cardiovascular disease than in disease-free subjects. Similarly, the prevalence of cardiovascular disease was consistently greater in participants with progressively thicker IMT. The greatest differences in carotid IMT associated with prevalent disease were observed for reported symptomatic peripheral vascular disease (0.09 to 0.22 mm greater IMT in the four race-gender groups).


These data document the substantially greater arterial wall thickness observed in middle-aged adults with prevalent cardiovascular disease. Both carotid and popliteal arterial IMT were related to clinically manifest cardiovascular disease affecting distant vascular beds, such as the cerebral, peripheral, and coronary artery vascular beds.

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