Background and purpose: Because best medical treatment is improving, the risk of stroke in asymptomatic carotid artery stenosis (ACAS) may decline. We evaluated the risk of ischemic stroke and stratified it according to stroke subtype in patients with ACAS during long-term follow-up.
Methods: In total, 4319 consecutive patients in the Second Manifestations of Arterial disease study with clinically manifest arterial disease or specific risk factors, but without a history of cerebrovascular disease, were included. Degree of stenosis was evaluated with duplex ultrasound scanning. Strokes during follow-up were classified according to subtype. Cox-proportional hazard-regression models were used to evaluate the relationship between ACAS and future stroke.
Results: We identified 293 (6.8%) patients with ACAS 50% to 99%, of whom 193 had 70% to 99% stenosis. In these subgroups, mean follow-up was 6.2 and 6.0 years, respectively. In total, 94 ischemic strokes occurred, of which 8 in ACAS 50% to 99% patients. The any territory annual ischemic stroke risk was 0.4% in 50% to 99% ACAS and 0.5% per year for 70% to 99% ACAS patients. The risk of ischemic stroke was not significantly increased in patients with ACAS 70% to 99% (hazard ratio, 1.5; 95% confidence interval, 0.7-3.5). Patients with ACAS 50% to 99% and ACAS 70% to 99% tended to have nonsignificantly more large vessel disease strokes (hazard ratio, 1.5; 95% confidence interval, 0.5-4.2 and hazard ratio, 1.7; 95% confidence interval, 0.5-5.6).
Conclusions: Patients with clinically manifest arterial disease or type 2 diabetes mellitus have a low risk of developing ischemic stroke, irrespective of its subtype and independent of the degree of ACAS stenosis.