In vivo magnetic resonance evaluation of associations between aortic atherosclerosis and both risk factors and coronary artery disease in patients referred for coronary angiography

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Abstract

Background

Magnetic resonance imaging was recently reported to detect atherosclerotic plaques in thoracic and abdominal aortas.

Methods

Using magnetic resonance imaging, we investigated associations of risk factors and plasma inflammatory markers with plaques in both thoracic and abdominal aortas in 102 patients undergoing coronary angiography. Associations between coronary artery disease (CAD) and aortic plaques were also evaluated.

Results

Plaques in thoracic and abdominal aortas were detected in 61% and 90% of patients, respectively. Age and systolic blood pressure correlated with plaque extents in both the aortas. Serum LDL cholesterol level correlated with plaque extent in the thoracic aorta (rs = 0.42). The degree of smoking correlated with plaque extent in the abdominal aorta (rs = 0.43). In multivariate analysis, age and systolic blood pressure were associated with plaques in both the aortas. The LDL cholesterol and smoking were characteristically associated with plaques in the thoracic and abdominal aortas, respectively. Regarding inflammatory markers, fibrinogen and C-reactive protein levels correlated with total plaque extent in the aortas (rs = 0.50 and rs = 0.51). Compared with 24 patients without CAD, 78 with CAD more often had plaques in the thoracic (71% vs 29%) and abdominal (95% vs 75%) aortas. Although plaque extents in both the aortas correlated with the severity of CAD, only thoracic plaques were independently associated with CAD.

Conclusions

The thoracic and abdominal aortas may have different susceptibilities to risk factors. However, plasma inflammatory markers appear to reflect total extent of aortic atherosclerosis. Although aortic plaques are common in patients with CAD, only thoracic plaques are an independent factor for CAD.

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