Manifestations of coronary atherosclerosis in young trauma victims--an autopsy study

J Am Coll Cardiol. 1993 Aug;22(2):459-67. doi: 10.1016/0735-1097(93)90050-b.


Objectives: The aim of this study was to look at the prevalence of coronary atherosclerosis, its severity and site of involvement in patients < 35 years old who died from noncardiac trauma.

Background: Autopsies performed on casualties of the Korean War revealed coronary artery involvement in 77.3% of the hearts studied, and data after the Vietnam War noted the presence of atherosclerosis in 45% of casualties with severe disease in 5%, suggesting a decline in the prevalence of coronary atherosclerosis in young men.

Methods: One hundred eleven victims of noncardiac trauma (86.4% white with a mean age of 26 +/- 6 years) underwent pathologic examination of their coronary arteries to estimate the presence and severity of coronary atherosclerosis grossly, microscopically and through computerized planimetry. Identified segments of the coronary arteries were sectioned at 3-mm intervals, stained with special stains and after microscopic examination transferred to videotape and digitized to allow estimation of the percent compromise in the lumen area by atherosclerotic plaque.

Results: Signs of coronary atherosclerosis were seen in 78.3% of the total study group, with > 50% narrowing in 20.7% and > 75% narrowing in 9%. No demographic or anatomic features separated the groups with less or more severe involvement of their coronary arteries. Proximal involvement was more common except in the right coronary artery, which was as frequently involved distally.

Conclusions: The overall prevalence of coronary atherosclerosis in a young, predominantly male study group was comparable with that noted after the Korean War. Left main or significant two- and three-vessel involvement was noted in 20% of the group studied and emphasizes the need for aggressive risk factor modification in this group.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Autopsy
  • Body Mass Index
  • Coronary Artery Disease / epidemiology*
  • Coronary Artery Disease / pathology*
  • Coronary Vessels / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Tennessee / epidemiology
  • Wounds and Injuries / mortality