Arterial Stiffness Is Associated With Carotid Intraplaque Hemorrhage in the General Population
The Rotterdam Study
Objective—The relation between arterial stiffness and atherosclerosis, and specifically the influence of arterial stiffness on plaque composition, is largely unknown. In a population-based study, we investigated the association between arterial stiffness and the presence and composition of carotid atherosclerotic plaques.
Approach and Results—Arterial stiffness was measured in 6527 participants (67.0±8.6 years) using aortic pulse wave velocity (PWV). Presence of carotid atherosclerotic plaques was assessed with ultrasound. Subsequently, 1059 subjects with carotid plaques (>2.5 mm) underwent MRI to assess plaque composition (presence of intraplaque hemorrhage, lipid, and calcification). Generalized estimation equation analyses adjusted for age, sex, mean arterial pressure, heart rate, carotid wall thickening, pulse pressure, and traditional cardiovascular risk factors were used to study the association between PWV and the presence and composition of carotid atherosclerotic plaques. In multivariable analysis, higher PWV was independently related to higher prevalence of carotid atherosclerotic plaque on ultrasound (odds ratio for highest quartile of PWV compared with lowest quartile, 1.24 [95% confidence interval, 1.02–1.51]). Furthermore, higher PWV was associated with intraplaque hemorrhage (age- and sex-adjusted odds ratio per SD increase in PWV, 1.20 [1.04–1.38] and calcification, 1.18 [1.03–1.35]), but not with lipid. After adjustment for cardiovascular risk factors, PWV remained significantly associated with intraplaque hemorrhage (1.20 [1.01–1.43]). Additional adjustment for pulse pressure did not materially affect the effect estimate (1.19 [1.00–1.42]).
Conclusions—Higher PWV is associated with presence and composition of carotid atherosclerotic plaques, in particular with intraplaque hemorrhage. These findings provide further clues for understanding the development of vulnerable atherosclerotic plaque.
- Received August 13, 2013.
- Accepted January 17, 2014.
- © 2014 American Heart Association, Inc.