Endothelial dysfunction is a fundamental step in the atherosclerotic disease process. Its presence is a risk factor for the development of clinical events, and may represent a marker of atherothrombotic burden. Also, endothelial dysfunction contributes to enhanced plaque vulnerability, may trigger plaque rupture, and favors thrombus formation. The assessment of endothelial vasomotion is a useful marker of atherosclerotic vascular disease. There are different methods to assess endothelial function: endothelium-dependent vasodilatation brachial flow-mediated dilation, cerebrovascular reactivity to L-arginine, and the determination of some biomarkers such as microalbuminuria, platelet function, and C-reactive protein. Endothelial dysfunction has been observed in stroke patients and has been related to stroke physiopathology, stroke subtypes, clinical severity and outcome. Resting ankle-brachial index (ABI) is also considered an indicator of generalized atherosclerosis, and a low ABI is associated with an increase in stroke incidence in the elderly. Despite all these data, there are no studies analyzing the predictive value of ABI for new cardiovascular events in patients after suffering an acute ischemic stroke. ARTICO is an ongoing prospective, observational, multicenter study being performed in 50 Spanish hospitals. The aim of the ARTICO study is to evaluate the prognostic value of a pathological ABI (<or=0.9) in the presence of a major cardiovascular event during a 1-year follow-up after first-ever ischemic stroke. Secondary objectives include the evaluation of the predictive value for major cardiovascular events of the carotid intima-media thickness, carotid duplex findings, and certain biomarkers. Data from the ARTICO study will increase the knowledge of patient outcome after ischemic stroke and may help to improve our ability to detect patients at high risk of stroke recurrence or major cardiovascular events.
(c) 2009 S. Karger AG, Basel.