Relationship Between Carotid Artery Intima-Media Thickness and Brachial Artery Flow-Mediated Dilation in Middle-Aged Healthy Men
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OBJECTIVES: We aimed to determine the relationship between carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) and brachial artery flow-mediated dilation (FMD) in healthy middle-age men. BACKGROUND: Carotid IMT and brachial artery FMD are frequently used as surrogate measures of subclinical atherosclerosis. Whereas carotid IMT identifies early structural abnormalities, brachial artery FMD, considered a bioassay of endothelial function, measures functional vascular integrity. The relationship between carotid IMT and brachial artery FMD has not been well studied. METHODS: We measured traditional risk factors, carotid IMT, and brachial artery FMD in 1,578 middle-aged men without known cardiovascular disease and analyzed the relationship between carotid IMT and brachial FMD. RESULTS: Carotid IMT correlated with age, systolic blood pressure, body mass index, fasting glucose, total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and with the overall Framingham risk score (p < 0.001 for all), whereas impaired brachial artery FMD correlated with systolic and diastolic blood pressure (p < 0.01). No relationship was observed between carotid IMT and brachial artery FMD for the entire cohort (r = -0.006, p = 0.82) and in subgroups defined by traditional risk factors or by quintiles of carotid IMT and brachial FMD. CONCLUSIONS: In middle-aged healthy men, there is no significant correlation between carotid IMT and brachial artery FMD. This finding suggests that these are unique, independent surrogates that measure different aspects and stages of early atherosclerosis. Further studies are needed to define their role in clinical research and in cardiovascular risk assessment.
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