Impact of atherosclerotic risk factors on the anatomical distribution of peripheral arterial disease

Int Angiol. 2001 Sep;20(3):200-7.


Background: The aim of the study was to determine predictors of hemodynamically relevant atherosclerosis (HRA) in different segments of lower limb arteries in patients with peripheral arterial disease (PAD).

Methods: In a retrospective case-control study 106 hospitalized consecutive patients with symptomatic PAD and 52 asymptomatic control subjects were studied. All patients underwent distal aortofemoral angiography. The arteries of the lower limbs were divided into three sections: in the aorto-iliac and femoro-popliteal segments HRA was defined as one or more stenosis of over 50%. In the crural segment it was considered if at least two arteries of one lower leg had occlusions/stenoses of over 50%.

Results: In 106 patients, there were 132 cases of hemodynamically relevant lesions, and in 26 patients in two segments. We separately compared 23 cases with aorto-iliac, 82 with femoro-popliteal and 27 with crural manifestation to the 52 control subjects. Calculating age- and sex-adjusted odds ratios, we found that current smoking status and plasminogen levels were significantly associated with HRA in the aorto-iliac and femoro-popliteal segments, whereas in diabetes mellitus the association was found to be in the crural and femoro-popliteal segments. However, there was no such association for lipid profiles and fibrinogen.

Conclusions: We conclude that the anatomic distribution of HRA in patients with PAD is different according to the risk factor profile. The aorto-iliac and crural segments show specific risk profiles while the femoro-popliteal segment seems to be a transition zone. Smoking and high plasminogen levels may be related to atherosclerosis of proximal segments, diabetes to that of the distal segments.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arteries / pathology
  • Arteriosclerosis / epidemiology
  • Arteriosclerosis / pathology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leg / blood supply*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Peripheral Vascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Peripheral Vascular Diseases / pathology*
  • Plasminogen / metabolism
  • Regional Blood Flow
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / epidemiology


  • Plasminogen