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.
Copyright © 2012 American College of Cardiology Foundation. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.