Effect of lifestyle interventions on carotid arterial structure - The DR's EXTRA study

Prev Med. 2023 Mar:168:107436. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2023.107436. Epub 2023 Jan 29.


No lifestyle-based interventions with medium-term duration on carotid atherosclerotic have been performed so far. We aimed to investigate whether guideline-based dietary and physical activity interventions slow the progression of atherosclerotic changes in the general elderly population. 1410 Finnish men and women from a representative population sample were randomly assigned to one of six groups in the four-year intervention study: 1) reference, 2) aerobic training, 3) resistance training, 4) Nordic Diet, 5) aerobic training + Nordic Diet, 6) resistance training + Nordic Diet. The primary outcome was mean common carotid artery intima-media thickness (cIMT). The lumen diameter of the common carotid artery (cLD) was also analyzed. 567 men and 565 women aged 57 to 78 years were included. None of the intervention groups significantly slowed cIMT progression compared to the reference group. A subgroup analysis showed that men in the diet group had significantly smaller cIMT progression than in the reference group (-0.078 mm, 95% CI: -0.146 to -0.009, p = 0.02) and no significant increase in cIMT (p = 0.23). No other group showed a slowed cIMT progression. Among guideline-based lifestyle interventions, only diet leads to a significantly smaller progression of cIMT in older men of a representative population sample. No other lifestyle intervention contributed to a slowing of the progression of structural carotid markers. It must be questioned whether the guideline-based recommendations for a lifestyle change that were in place until recently are adequate to decelerate the atherosclerotic process.

Keywords: Arteriosclerosis; Carotid intima-media thickness; Diet; Lifestyle intervention; Physical activity.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Atherosclerosis*
  • Carotid Arteries / diagnostic imaging
  • Carotid Artery, Common / diagnostic imaging
  • Carotid Intima-Media Thickness*
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk Factors

Associated data

  • ISRCTN/ISRCTN45977199