Endothelial dysfunction is associated with carotid plaque: a cross-sectional study from the population based Northern Manhattan Study
Background: Impaired vascular function occurs early in atherogenesis. Brachial flow mediated dilatation (FMD) is a non-invasive measure of vascular function and may be an important marker of preclinical atherosclerosis. Data on the association between FMD and carotid plaque in multi-ethnic populations are limited. The objective of this study was to determine whether endothelial dysfunction is independently associated with carotid plaque in a community of northern Manhattan. Methods: In the population-based Northern Manhattan Study (NOMAS), high-resolution B-mode ultrasound images of the brachial and carotid arteries were obtained in 643 stroke-free subjects (mean age 66 years; 55% women; 65% Caribbean-Hispanic, 17% African-American, 16% Caucasian). Brachial FMD was measured during reactive hyperemia. Maximum carotid plaque thickness (MCPT) was measured at the peak plaque prominence. Results: The mean brachial FMD was 5.78 ± 3.83 %. Carotid plaque was present in 339 (53%) subjects. The mean MCPT was 1.68 ± 0.82 mm, and the 75th percentile was 2.0 mm. Reduced FMD was significantly associated with increased MCPT. After adjusting for demographics, vascular risk factors, and education, each percent of FMD decrease was associated with a significant 0.02 mm increase in MCPT (p = 0.028). In a dichotomous adjusted model, blunted FMD was associated with an increased risk of MCPT ≥ 2.0 mm (OR, 1.11 for every 1% decrease in FMD; 95% CI, 1.03–1.19). Conclusion: Decreased brachial FMD is independently associated with carotid plaque. Non-invasive evaluation of endothelial dysfunction may be a useful marker of preclinical atherosclerosis and help to individualize cardiovascular risk assessment beyond traditional risk factors.
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