Measurements of carotid intima-media thickness and of interadventitia common carotid diameter improve prediction of cardiovascular events: results of the IMPROVE (Carotid Intima Media Thickness [IMT] and IMT-Progression as Predictors of Vascular Events in a High Risk European Population) study

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2012 Oct 16;60(16):1489-99. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2012.06.034. Epub 2012 Sep 19.


Objectives: The goal of this study was to compare the performance of several measures of carotid intima-media thickness (C-IMT) as predictors of cardiovascular events (CVEs), and to investigate whether they add to the predictive accuracy of Framingham risk factors (FRFs).

Background: Various markers of subclinical atherosclerosis have been identified as predictors of CVEs, but the most powerful variable is still under debate.

Methods: A cohort study was carried out in 5 European countries. A total of 3,703 subjects (median age 64.4 years; 48% men) were followed-up for a median of 36.2 months, and 215 suffered a first CVE (incidence: 19.9/1,000 person-years).

Results: All measures of C-IMT and the interadventitia common carotid artery diameter (ICCAD) were associated with the risk of CVEs, after adjustment for FRFs and therapies (all p < 0.005). The average of 8 maximal IMT measurements (IMT(mean-max)), alone or combined with ICCAD, classified events and non-events better than the common carotid mean IMT (net reclassification improvement [NRI]: +11.6% and +19.9%, respectively; both p < 0.01). Compared with classification based on FRFs alone, the NRI resulting from the combination of FRFs+ICCAD+IMT(mean-max) was +12.1% (p < 0.01). The presence of at least 1 plaque (maximum IMT >1.5 mm) performed significantly worse than composite IMTs that incorporated plaques (p < 0.001). Adjusted Kaplan-Meier curves showed that individuals with a FRS = 22.6% (cohort average), and both IMT(mean-max) and ICCAD above the median, had a 6.5% risk to develop a CVE over 3 years versus a 3.4% risk for those with the same FRS, and both IMT(mean-max) and ICCAD below the median.

Conclusions: A risk stratification strategy based on C-IMT and ICCAD as an adjunct to FRFs is a rational approach to prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Atherosclerosis / diagnosis*
  • Carotid Arteries / diagnostic imaging*
  • Carotid Intima-Media Thickness*
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / epidemiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Coronary Disease / epidemiology
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests