Aortic Distensibility and Aortic Intima-Media Thickness in Patients without Clinical Manifestation of Atherosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease

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Background: There is growing evidence that aortic distensibility (AD) is a subclinical marker of early atherosclerosis. Aortic intima-media thickness (IMT) was an earlier marker than carotid IMT of preclinical atherosclerosis. In this study, we aimed to assess the relationship between thoracic aortic IMT and AD. Methods: We studied 192 patients (mean age: 45.5 ± 8.4 years) who underwent transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) for various indications. Four different grades were determined according to IMT of thoracic aorta (Grade 1 < 1 mm; 1 mm ≤ Grade 2 < 3 mm; 3 mm ≤ Grade 3 < 5 mm; 5 mm ≤ Grade 4). AD was calculated from the echocardiographically derived ascending aorta diameters and hemodynamic pressure measurements in all patients. High sensitive C-reactive protein (hsCRP) and other biochemical markers were measured using an automated chemistry analyzer. Results: TEE evaluation characterized thoracic aortic intimal morphology as grade 1 in 71 patients (37%), grade 2 in 57 patients (29.7%), grade 3 in 34 patients (17.7%), and grade 4 in 30 (15.6%) patients. The lowest AD level was observed in grade 4 group compared with grade 1 and grade 2 groups (P < 0.001, P = 0.009, respectively). AD level of grade 3 group was lower than grade 1 and grade 2 group (P < 0.001, P = 0.021, respectively). In multiple linear regression analysis, AD was independently associated with age (β = −0.138, P = 0.029), hsCRP (β = −0.209, P = 0.001), and aortic IMT (β = −0.432, P < 0.001). Conclusion: AD is independently associated with age, thoracic aortic IMT, and hsCRP. Impaired elasticity index of the aorta might be an independent predictor for the severity of thoracic atherosclerosis. (Echocardiography 2013;30:407-413).

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