Age-adjusted reference limits for carotid intima-media thickness as better indicator of vascular risk: population-based estimates from the VITA project

J Thromb Haemost. 2005 Jun;3(6):1224-30. doi: 10.1111/j.1538-7836.2005.01440.x.


Background: An increase of carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) has been demonstrated to be associated in many studies with the subsequent risk of cardio- and cerebrovascular events, but the threshold level of CIMT for an increased risk at different ages remains uncertain.

Objectives: We aimed at establishing optimal reference limits associated with a definite increased vascular risk in the general population.

Methods: A cohort of 2580 subjects was enrolled in a population-based cross-sectional survey. CIMT was measured on both left and right common carotid arteries, and age-specific, percentile-based reference ranges for CIMT were computed together with the Framingham risk score.

Results: A significant, steady increase of CIMT reference ranges was observed within different age strata. CIMT levels were linearly related with an increase of the Framingham risk score, but after age-adjustment only the upper CIMT quintile was associated with a higher Framingham risk score.

Conclusions: Age-specific reference limits provide better estimate of vascular risk in the population and correlation with established risk factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Distribution
  • Anthropometry*
  • Body Weights and Measures
  • Carotid Arteries*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Reference Values
  • Risk Factors
  • Tunica Intima*
  • Vascular Diseases / diagnosis*