Background: The aim of this study was to examine the significance of ultrasound-measured carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) in high-risk patients with hypertension and coronary artery disease (CAD), as an independent prognostic factor in determining the risk of all-cause death or future cardiovascular events.
Methods: The study included 297 consecutive patients (mean age +/- SD, 57 +/- 9.4 years) with diagnosed hypertension and CAD, referred for coronary angiography. The mean of maximal CIMT in two arterial segments bilaterally was calculated. The primary endpoint was a patient's death from all causes. Death, stroke, or myocardial infarction comprised the secondary, composite endpoint.
Results: There was a follow-up of 1 to 79 (mean, 41) months. The predictors of death in a multivariate Cox proportional hazards model were the number of stenosed coronary arteries (P = .007) and CIMT (P = .001). The risk of the secondary, composite endpoint (death, stroke, or myocardial infarction) was determined by diabetes (P = .008) and CIMT (P = .010). Nearly 99% of patients with "low CIMT" (< or =1.13 mm) survived for 5 years, versus 78% with "high CIMT" >1.13 mm (log-rank test; P < .001). For the secondary, composite endpoint (death, stroke, or myocardial infarction), the event-free survival rate was 95% (low CIMT), versus 74% after 5 years (high CIMT) (P < .008).
Conclusions: Intima-media thickness of the carotid arteries is a strong and independent predictor of death and serious cardiovascular events in hypertensive patients with CAD referred for coronary angiography.