Objective: To assess the association of carotid plaques and common carotid artery intima-media thickness with traditional modifiable cardiovascular risk factors.
Methods: We examined 4,266 participants aged 35-74years in the Brazilian Longitudinal Study of Adult Health (ELSA-Brasil) baseline. The presence of plaques at all carotid arteries sites was evaluated. The mean far wall common carotid artery intima-media thickness was measured. To evaluate the association of cardiovascular risk factors with plaques and plaque burden, we applied logistic regression models presented as crude, adjusted by sociodemographic variables, along with multivariate further adjustment for hypertension, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, and smoking. For the association of cardiovascular risk factors and common carotid artery intima-media thickness, linear regression models were used with the same adjustments.
Results: Median age was 51 years (interquartile range: 45-58 years; 54.5% of females). Plaque prevalence in at least one segment of the carotid arteries was 35.9%. Mean common carotid artery intima-media thickness of the far walls was 0.609 ± 0.133 mm. In the multivariate model for plaque presence, the odds ratios were:1.39 (1.19-1.63) for hypertension;1.58 (1.36-1.82) for hypercholesterolemia; 2.00 (1.65-2.43),1.19 (1.02-1.40) for current and past smoking, and 1.13 (0.95-1.35) for diabetes. In the multivariate linear regression models, common carotid artery intima-media thickness beta-coefficients were: 0.035 mm (0.027-0.043) for hypertension; 0.020 mm (0.013-0.027) for hypercholesterolemia; 0.020 mm (0.010-0.029), 0.012 mm (0.004-0.020) for current and past smoking, and 0.024 mm (0.015-0.033) for diabetes.
Conclusion: Cardiovascular risk factors were independently associated with increasing common carotid artery intima-media thickness, plaque prevalence, and plaque scores. Diabetes did not show an independent association with plaques in the multivariate model.
Keywords: Atherosclerosis; Carotid arteries; Epidemiology; Risk factors.
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