Cardiovascular risk profile of asymptomatic healthy young adults with increased femoral artery intima-media thickness: The Bogalusa Heart Study

Am J Med Sci. 2005 Sep;330(3):105-10. doi: 10.1097/00000441-200509000-00001.


Background: Femoral artery intima-media thickness (IMT), like carotid IMT, is a surrogate indicator of atherosclerotic coronary and peripheral vascular diseases in middle-aged and older adults. This study examined the cardiovascular disease risk profile of asymptomatic young adults with increased femoral artery IMT.

Methods: Femoral artery IMT was measured by B-mode ultrasonography in 1080 black and white subjects (aged 24-43 years; 71% white, 43% male) enrolled in the Bogalusa Heart Study. Individuals in the top (n=54) versus bottom fifth (n=54) percentiles distribution of femoral IMT were compared for traditional cardiovascular risk factors profile. Univariate analysis compared the two groups, t-tests and chi tests were performed.

Results: The top and bottom fifth percentiles of IMT differed with respect to age (P<0.001), systolic blood pressure (P<0.05), diastolic blood pressure (P<0.05), total cholesterol (P<0.01), low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (P<0.001), non-high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (P<0.01) and smoking status (P<0.01). In terms of prevalence of clinically defined traditional risk factors, individuals at the top versus bottom fifth percentile of IMT distribution had significantly higher prevalence of high LDL cholesterol (>OR=130 mg/dL), non-HDL cholesterol (>OR=160 mg/dL), and cigarette smoking. The odds ratio for individuals with three or more risk factors versus no risk factors having IMT in the top fifth percentile was 4.7 (P=0.01).

Conclusion: The observed adverse effect of cardiovascular risk factors on IMT of femoral artery, a surrogate measure of coronary and peripheral atherosclerosis, in asymptomatic young individuals underscores the need for risk factors profiling in early life. These observations have important implications in preventive medicine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / pathology*
  • Female
  • Femoral Artery / pathology*
  • Health*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk Factors