One, two and three-dimensional ultrasound measurements of carotid atherosclerosis before and after cardiac rehabilitation: preliminary results of a randomized controlled trial
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BACKGROUND: It is still not known how patients who are post-transient ischemic attack (TIA) or post-stroke might benefit from prospectively planned comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation (CCR). In this pilot evaluation of a larger ongoing randomized-controlled-trial, we evaluated ultrasound (US) measurements of carotid atherosclerosis in subjects following TIA or mild non-disabling stroke and their relationship with risk factors before and after 6-months of CCR. METHODS: Carotid ultrasound (US) measurements of one-dimensional intima-media-thickness (IMT), two-dimensional total-plaque-area (TPA), three-dimensional total-plaque-volume (TPV) and vessel-wall-volume (VWV) were acquired before and after 6-months CCR for 39 subjects who had previously experienced a TIA and provided written informed consent to participate in this randomized controlled trial. We maintained blinding for this ongoing study by representing treatment and control groups as A or B, although we did not identify which of A or B was treatment or control. Carotid IMT, TPA, TPV and VWV were measured before and after CCR as were changes in body mass index (BMI), total cholesterol (TC), high-density lipoprotein (HDL), low-density lipoprotein (LDL), triglycerides (TG), systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP). RESULTS: There were no significant differences in US measurements or risk factors between groups A and B. There was no significant change in carotid ultrasound measurements for group A (IMT, p = .728; TPA, p = .629; TPV, p = .674; VWV, p = .507) or B (IMT, p = .054; TPA, p = .567; TPV, p = .773; VWV, p = .431) at the end of CCR. There were significant but weak-to-moderate correlations between IMT and VWV (r = 0.25, p = .01), IMT and TPV (r = 0.21, p = .01), TPV and TPA (r = 0.60, p < .0001) and VWV and TPV (r = 0.22, p = .02). Subjects with improved TC/HDL ratios showed improved carotid VWV although, this was not statistically significant. CONCLUSION: In this preliminary evaluation, there were no significant differences in carotid US measurements in the control or CCR group; a larger sample size and/or longer duration is required to detect significant changes in US or other risk factor measurements.
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