Objectives: To study carotid and femoral intima-media thicknesses and diameters in relation to age, sex, morphologic status and blood pressure.
Participants: The subjects were 369 men and women (aged 10-54 years) from the Stanislas cohort, with no known cardiovascular disease.
Methods: Intima-media thicknesses and diameters were measured by B-mode ultrasonography. The effects of sex, age, smoking, anthropometric variables, cholesterol and blood pressure were studied using bivariate and regression analysis.
Results: Carotid and femoral intima-media thicknesses were not affected by age nor by sex up to 18 years of age. Thereafter, they increased sharply in men and remained higher than in women. Values were correlated with systolic blood pressure only in men, and with fat-free mass in children and young adults only at the femoral site. Smoking, body mass index and fat mass were associated with intima-media thicknesses only in adults. Carotid diameter was little affected by age during childhood and in adults. Femoral diameter increased up to the age of 18 in both sexes and remained unaffected by age thereafter. This increase was more pronounced in boys, and so values became consistently greater in males aged over 14 years. Carotid diameter was correlated with body mass index or fat mass whereas femoral diameter was correlated with weight or fat-free-mass in children and men. The opposite was observed in women.
Conclusion: Sex differences occur before adolescence for arterial diameter, but only at an adult age for intima-media thickness. In young subjects, carotid geometry seems to be influenced by blood pressure and excess body weight, while femoral artery geometry seems to be related to blood pressure and body growth.