Background: The role of atherosclerosis in carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) has not previously been addressed in population studies. The aim of this study was to investigate the associations of cardiovascular risk factors, carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT), and clinical atherosclerotic diseases with CTS.
Methods: In this cross sectional study, the target population consisted of subjects aged 30 or over who had participated in the national Finnish Health Survey in 2000-2001. Of the 7977 eligible subjects, 6254 (78.4%) were included in our study. Carotid IMT was measured in a sub-sample of subjects aged 45 to 74 (N=1353).
Results: Obesity (adjusted odds ratio (OR) 2.4, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.1-5.4), high LDL cholesterol (OR 3.8, 95% CI 1.6-9.1 for >190 vs. <129 mg/dL), high triglycerides (OR 2.7, 95% CI 1.2-6.1 for >200 vs. <150 mg/dL), hypertension (OR 3.4, 95% CI 1.6-7.4) and cardiac arrhythmia (OR 10.2, 95% CI 2.7-38.4) were associated with CTS in subjects aged 30-44. In the age group of 60 years or over, coronary artery disease (OR 1.9, 95% CI 1.1-3.5), valvular heart disease (OR 2.3, 95% CI 1.0-5.0) and carotid IMT (1.4, 95% CI 0.9-2.1 for each 0.23 mm increase) were associated with CTS. Carotid IMT was associated with CTS only in subjects with hypertension or clinical atherosclerotic vascular disease, or in those who were exposed to physical workload factors.
Conclusions: Our findings suggest an association between CTS and cardiovascular risk factors in young people, and carotid IMT and clinical atherosclerotic vascular disease in older people. CTS may either be a manifestation of atherosclerosis, or both conditions may share similar risk factors.