Relation of Laboratory and Clinical Variables to the Grade of Carotid Atherosclerosis

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Abstract

Background and Purpose

To clarify diagnostic entities in ischemic stroke we analyzed the relation between the severity of carotid atherosclerosis, coagulation parameters, lipoproteins, neurological status, and risk factors in 232 patients.

Methods

Duplex ultrasonography, computed tomography scan, and laboratory investigations were performed between the third and tenth days after stroke. Based on carotid ultrasound scores, we categorized the patients into four groups (A, B, C, and D) according to severity of atherosclerosis. Corresponding laboratory variables and clinical data were statistically analyzed.

Results

Ultrasound scores were significantly (P<.05) higher in the male (n=126) versus female (n=106) patients. The hematocrit was significantly higher and thrombin time was significantly shorter in the male group compared with the female group. Severe atherosclerosis (group C) and occlusion (group D) of the internal carotid artery was associated with smoking (C=56%; D=78%), hypertension (C=43%; D=35%), claudication (C=13%; D=5%), and antecedent myocardial infarction (C=9%; D=13%). There was no statistical correlation between ultrasound scores and the patient's neurological condition. Cholesterol and plasma fibrinogen levels were significantly higher and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol was significantly lower in groups with severe atherosclerosis compared with patients with slight intimal damage. The presence of multiple plaques or thrombosis of the internal carotid artery was concordant with the prevalence of single cerebral infarcts.

Conclusions

Severity of carotid atherosclerosis corresponded well with the following factors: age, smoking, and low concentration of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Elevation of plasma fibrinogen combined with a loss of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol is strongly associated with severe atherosclerosis and results in brain infarction.

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