Risk prediction of coronary heart disease based on retinal vascular caliber (from the Atherosclerosis Risk In Communities [ARIC] Study)

Am J Cardiol. 2008 Jul 1;102(1):58-63. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2008.02.094. Epub 2008 Apr 22.


Recent studies showed that such retinal vascular signs as quantitative retinal vascular caliber were associated with increased risk of incident coronary heart disease (CHD), but whether these retinal vascular signs add to the prediction of CHD over and above traditional CHD risk factors was not addressed. Whether these signs add to the prediction of CHD over and above the Framingham risk score in people (n = 9,155) without diabetes selected from the ARIC Study was investigated. Incident CHD was ascertained using standardized methods, and retinal vascular caliber and other retinal signs were measured from retinal photographs. After a mean of 8.8 years of follow-up, there were 700 incident CHD events. Women with wider retinal venular caliber (hazard ratio 1.27/1-SD increase, 95% confidence interval 1.08 to 1.50) and narrower retinal arteriolar caliber (hazard ratio 1.31/1-SD decrease, 95% confidence interval 1.10 to 1.56) had a higher risk of incident CHD after adjusting for Framingham risk score variables. Area under the receiver operator characteristic curve increased from 0.695 to 0.706 (1.7% increase) with the addition of retinal vascular caliber to the Framingham risk model. Risk prediction models with and without retinal vascular caliber both fitted the data and were well calibrated for women. In men, retinal vascular caliber was not associated with CHD risk after adjustment. Other retinal vascular signs were not associated with 10-year incident CHD in men or women. In conclusion, although retinal vascular caliber independently predicted CHD risk in women, the incremental predictive ability over that of the Framingham model was modest and unlikely to translate meaningfully into clinical practice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Coronary Disease / diagnosis*
  • Coronary Disease / epidemiology*
  • Diagnosis, Computer-Assisted
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Photography
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Retinal Diseases / pathology*
  • Retinal Vessels / pathology*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors