BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE-: Carotid intima-media thickness (cIMT) was a widely accepted ultrasound marker of subclinical atherosclerosis in the past. Although traditional risk factors may explain ≈50% of the variance in plaque burden, they may not explain such a high proportion of the variance in IMT, especially when measured in plaque-freel ocations. We aimed this study to identify individuals with cIMT unexplained by traditional risk factors for future environmental and genetic research. METHODS-: As part of the Northern Manhattan Study, 1790 stroke-free individuals (mean age, 69±9 years; 60% women; 61% Hispanic; 19% black; 18% white) were assessed for cIMT using B-mode carotid ultrasound. Multiple linear regression models were evaluated: (1) incorporating prespecified traditional risk factors; and (2) including less traditional factors, such as inflammation biomarkers, adiponectin, homocysteine, and kidney function. Standardized cIMT residual scores were constructed to select individuals with unexplained cIMT. RESULTS-: Mean total cIMT was 0.92±0.09 mm. The traditional model explained 11% of the variance in cIMT. Age (7%), male sex (3%), glucose (<1%), pack-years of smoking (<1%), and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (<1%) were significant contributing factors. The model, including inflammatory biomarkers, explained 16% of the variance in cIMT. Adiponectin was the only additional significant contributor to the variance in cIMT. We identified 358 individuals (20%) with cIMT unexplained by the investigated risk factors. CONCLUSIONS-: Vascular risk factors explain only a small proportion of variance in cIMT. Identification of novel genetic and environmental factors underlying unexplained subclinical atherosclerosis is of utmost importance for future effective prevention of vascular disease.
- carotid intima-media thickness
- carotid ultrasound
- risk factors