AbstractBackground and Purpose—
Because atherosclerosis is a systemic disease, presence and composition on 1 location may relate to ischemic events in distant locations. We examined whether carotid atherosclerotic wall thickness, stenosis, and plaque composition are related to history of ischemic stroke and coronary heart disease (CHD).Methods—
From the population-based Rotterdam Study, 1731 asymptomatic participants (mean age, 72.4±9.1 years; 55% males) underwent magnetic resonance imaging of both carotid arteries. We assessed carotid wall thickness, stenosis and plaque composition, that is presence of intraplaque hemorrhage, lipid, and calcification. History of ischemic stroke and CHD was assessed until date of magnetic resonance imaging. The study was approved by the institutional review board, and all participants gave informed consent. Logistic regression analyses adjusted for age and traditional cardiovascular risk factors were used to study sex-specific associations between plaque characteristics and clinical events.Results—
We found that both carotid stenosis and intraplaque hemorrhage were associated with ischemic stroke in men but not in women (men: odds ratio [OR] for stenosis [per 10% increase]: 1.17 [95% CI, 1.06–1.30] and for intraplaque hemorrhage 2.39 [95% CI, 1.32–4.35]). In both men and women, carotid stenosis was associated with CHD (men: OR per 10% increase 1.12 [95% CI, 1.04–1.21] and women: OR, 1.17 [95% CI, 1.03–1.34]) and carotid wall thickness was associated with CHD (men: OR, 1.20 [95% CI, 1.03–1.39] and women: OR, 1.21 [95% CI, 0.88–1.65]). None of the plaque components was associated with CHD.Conclusions—
Whereas carotid plaque thickness and stenosis are associated with the history of ischemic stroke and CHD, carotid intraplaque hemorrhage is associated with ischemic stroke, but not with CHD, providing novel insights into the pathogenesis of cardiovascular events.