BACKGROUND - Intimal medial thickness of the extracranial carotid arteries (IMT) is related to coronary artery disease (CAD) and CAD risk factors. Few studies have explored the association of risk factors with progression of IMT, and none have evaluated their associations with IMT progression specifically in patients with and without CAD.
METHODS AND RESULTS - We used coronary angiography to identify 280 patients equally divided between men and women and those with either > or =50% coronary artery stenosis or no CAD. Risk factors were measured at baseline and IMT was measured at baseline and yearly for 3 years in 241 of these individuals. Baseline risk factors and CAD status were related to IMT progression. IMT of patients with CAD progressed 3 times faster than that of patients with no CAD (mean+/-SEM, 33.7+/-7.4 versus 8.9+/-7.1 microm/year; P=0.02), and CAD status and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol were independently associated with IMT progression. Male sex, increased waist to hip ratio, cigarette smoking, increased triglycerides, and decreased HDL cholesterol were associated with increased progression in CAD patients.
CONCLUSIONS - Patients with CAD have more rapid progression of IMT than CAD-free controls, and risk factors are related to progression in them.