High red blood cell distribution width is closely associated with risk of carotid artery atherosclerosis in patients with hypertension

Exp Clin Cardiol. Fall 2010;15(3):37-40.


Background: A high red blood cell distribution width (RDW) may be associated with adverse outcomes in patients with heart failure and risk of death, and cardiovascular events in people with previous myocardial infarction. Ultrasound detection of carotid plaque helps to identify asymptomatic patients with advanced subclinical atherosclerosis, which can predict risk of cardiovascular death or myocardial infarction. However, the relationship of RDW and carotid artery atherosclerosis in hypertensive people is less certain.

Objective: To evaluate the association between RDW and carotid artery atherosclerosis in people with hypertension.

Methods: RDW was determined using a Coulter counter together with white blood cell count in 156 hypertensive inpatients 60 to 85 years of age. Carotid intimal-medial thickness (IMT) and carotid atherosclerotic plaques were identified by ultrasound imaging. Total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglyceride levels were determined using a multichannel analyzer. Systolic and diastolic blood pressures were measured manually.

Results: The number of patients with carotid artery atherosclerotic plaque, as well as the carotid IMT to inner diameter ratio, were significantly different among the different RDW groups of hypertensive inpatients (P<0.01). With linear regression analysis, increased carotid IMT and higher white blood cell count were identified to be significant and independent contributors to the RDW of hypertensive inpatients (P<0.05).

Conclusions: A close relationship between high RDW and IMT, and the incidence of carotid plaque, was identified in 156 hypertensive inpatients.

Keywords: Carotid intimal-medial thickness; Hypertension; Red blood cell distribution width.