Interrelation between the extent of atherosclerosis in the thoracic aorta, carotid intima-media thickness and the extent of coronary artery disease

Atherosclerosis. 2005 Apr;179(2):311-6. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2004.10.012. Epub 2004 Dec 8.


Intima-media thickness (IMT) of the common carotid artery and atherosclerosis of the thoracic aorta have been shown to correlate with coronary artery disease (CAD). This study compares the relation between wall changes in the thoracic aorta and the carotid arteries and the angiographic severity and extent of atherosclerotic lesions in the coronary arteries in patients with verified CAD. Atherosclerotic wall changes in the carotid arteries and the thoracic aorta were measured by B-mode ultrasonography and transesophageal echocardiography (TEE), respectively, in 37 subjects aged 65+/-10 years with angiographically verified CAD. The mean value of the common carotid IMT of the right and left sides was 0.87+/-0.21 mm. All subjects had carotid plaques. TEE detected grades II-IV atherosclerotic plaques in the thoracic aorta in 32 of the 37 (86%) patients. A significant correlation was seen between the extent of coronary artery stenosis and aortic plaques score (r=0.46, p=0.008). Mean carotid IMT was also significantly correlated with coronary artery stenosis extent score (r=0.44, p=0.007). Moreover, a significant correlation was seen between the aortic plaque score and the mean carotid IMT (r=0.39, p=0.02). In conclusion, we found a clear and significant relationship between wall changes in the thoracic aorta, common carotid IMT and the angiographic extent of coronary artery stenosis in patients with severe CAD. These findings indicate a potential of B-mode ultrasonography of the carotid arteries and transesophageal echocardiographic aortic examination in the diagnostic and prognostic evaluation of patients with suspected CAD.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aorta, Thoracic / diagnostic imaging
  • Aorta, Thoracic / ultrastructure*
  • Arteriosclerosis / physiopathology*
  • Carotid Arteries / diagnostic imaging
  • Carotid Arteries / ultrastructure*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / diagnosis
  • Coronary Artery Disease / pathology*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Echocardiography, Transesophageal
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Tunica Intima / diagnostic imaging
  • Tunica Intima / ultrastructure*
  • Ultrasonography, Interventional