Arterial stiffness changes in patients with cardiovascular risk factors but normal carotid intima–media thickness

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AimsWe aimed to evaluate, through an Echotracking system, the functional changes of carotid arteries with relation to the amount of cardiovascular risk factors in patients without structural atherosclerotic damage.MethodsFrom a series of 260 asymptomatic consecutive patients we selected 75 patients (mean age: 47 ± 8 years) with normal intima–media thickness (IMT) and without atherosclerotic plaques. In these patients, local arterial stiffness parameters were evaluated using a simple Echotracking system. Patients were divided in three groups: group 1 (n = 25 patients without risk factors), group 2 (n = 23 patients with one risk factor) and group 3 (n = 27 patients with two or more risk factors).ResultsCarotid IMT was similar in all groups (P = ns). On the contrary, stiffness parameters progressively increased according to the number of risk factors [pulse wave velocity (PWV) = 5.8 ± 1.1 m/s, 6.4 ± 1.2 m/s and 6.7 ± 1.4 m/s in Group 1, 2 and 3, respectively, P = 0.002; β-index = 7.5 ± 3.4, 8.5 ± 3.2 and 9.5 ± 4.7 in Group 1, 2 and 3, respectively, P = 0.047]. Furthermore, on multivariate linear regression analysis, PWV and β-index significantly correlated (P = 0.002 and P = 0.048, respectively) with the number of risk factors even when adjusted for age, gender and current therapy.ConclusionIn a population with normal carotid IMT and without plaques, changes in arterial stiffness are significantly related to the number of risk factors. This information could be relevant for a more tailored primary prevention in patients with risk factors even in absence of structural atherosclerotic abnormalities.

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