Risk Factors Related to Carotid Intima-Media Thickness and Plaque in Children With Familial Hypercholesterolemia and Control Subjects
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To assess the relationship between risk factors for cardiovascular disease and early atherosclerotic changes in the carotid artery, we measured carotid intima-media thickness by B-mode ultrasonography in 61 boys and 29 girls 10 to 19 years old with familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) and 30 control subjects matched for age and sex. All were nonsmokers, and all the FH adolescents had a known mutation in the LDL receptor gene. Mean intima-media thickness in the far wall of the carotid bulb was greater (P=.03) in the FH group than in the control subjects: 0.54 mm (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.52 to 0.56) versus 0.50 mm (95% CI, 0.47 to 0.52). In the entire group, mean and maximum intima-media thicknesses in the carotid bulb were positively associated with levels of apolipoprotein B and fibrinogen after control for pubertal stage (r=.19 to .24; P<.05), as was male sex. Plasma total homocysteine was similar in the FH and control groups and was associated with mean and maximum intima-media thicknesses in the far wall of the common carotid artery and carotid bulb after control for pubertal stage (r=.22 to .28; P<.05). With the exception of the relation between plasma fibrinogen level and mean carotid bulb intima-media thickness, these associations were essentially unchanged in stepwise multiple linear regression analyses, allowing for the entry of BMI and level of HDL cholesterol into the analysis. Carotid artery plaque was present in 10% of the children with FH versus none of the control subjects. Children with plaque had a higher mean cholesterol-years score than children without plaque. These findings suggest that the classic lipid and hemostatic risk factors as well as plasma total homocysteine are associated with markers of early carotid atherosclerosis from the second decade of life. B-mode ultrasonography may prove to be a useful tool in risk stratification of children with FH.
- Received November 9, 1995.
- Revision received February 27, 1996.