A Prospective Study of Cerebral Artery Atherosclerosis

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Atherosclerosis in the circle of Willis and its major branches was studied prospectively in 198 men in the Honolulu Heart Program who were free of cardiovascular disease at the entry examination. The level of atherosclerosis was greater in the large arteries of the circle of Willis than in the small arteries, and autopsy-verified cerebral infarction was strongly associated with increasing severity of atherosclerosis in both. Analyses of the association of atherosclerosis scores with biologic and lifestyle characteristics measured at entry into the study indicated that atherosclerosis in the large arteries was consistently related to age, diastolic blood pressure, serum cholesterol, and height (inversely). Weak trends of association were also found with increasing serum glucose concentration, increasing cigarette use, and decreasing alcohol intake. Atherosclerosis scores in the small arteries were associated with diastolic blood pressure and serum triglyceride concentration. Analysis of dietary intake indicated that atherosclerosis scores were higher for men who reported low intakes of fat and animal protein and high intakes of vegetable protein and total carbohydrates. These patterns were consistent with similar findings on the incidence of clinical stroke in this cohort. Age-adjusted and -specific atherosclerosis scores from both the large and small arteries declined significantly during the period 1965–1983. (Stroke 1988; 19:820–825)

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