Pattern of Cerebral Atherosclerosis in Hong Kong Chinese: Severity in Intracranial and Extracranial Vessels

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Background and PurposeThe clinical pattern of stroke and the angiographic distribution of cerebral atherosclerosis in Chinese are different from those in Caucasians. Pathological data from autopsy studies are lacking.MethodsThe intracranial and extracranial arteries supplying the brains of 114 consecutive Chinese patients undergoing autopsy in a regional general hospital were examined by computer-assisted morphometric analysis under a microscope as well as by macroscopic grading for atherosclerotic narrowing. The severity was correlated with various atherosclerosis-related factors.ResultsAtherosclerosis of the intracranial cerebral vessels was more severe than that of the extracranial vessels. The distal branches of the intracranial vessels were also commonly involved. Hypertension and diabetes mellitus were identified as factors associated only with intracranial atherosclerosis (p<0.001), whereas ischemic heart disease was associated with atherosclerosis in both the intracranial (p<0.001) and extracranial (p=0.012) vessels. Smoking was associated with narrowing of the extracranial vessels only (p=0.0054).ConclusionsCompared with figures from Caucasian and Japanese populations, the extent of intracranial atherosclerosis is much more severe in Hong Kong Chinese, whereas atherosclerotic narrowing of the extracranial carotid artery is less severe in Hong Kong Chinese than in Caucasians.

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