BACKGROUND: The study was performed to assess endothelial function and carotid intimal-medial thickness (IMT) in asymptomatic patients, with and without risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
METHODS: A cross sectional survey of asymptomatic patients, aged 21 - 60 years, with and without risk factors for cardiovascular disease was recruited from the outpatient department of Cardiology. Endothelial function was evaluated by flow mediated dilatation (FMD) of the brachial artery and carotid IMT was determined using a high resolution B mode ultrasonography system.
RESULTS: A total of 104 patients were included in the study. The mean carotid IMT was 0.67 ± 0.05 mm in the group without risk factors and 0.78 ± 0.12 mm in the group with risk factors (P value < 0.05). Endothelial dysfunction (ED) and increased carotid IMT were more significant in the group with risk factors (P value < 0.001). Age, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, body mass index and HbA1c had a significant correlation with both IMT and FMD response. A higher proportion of subjects with diabetes mellitus (87%), metabolic syndrome (86%) and family history of premature coronary artery disease (78%) had ED. In subjects with normal coronary angiogram, 71% had abnormal FMD response and 36% had increased carotid IMT.
CONCLUSION: In asymptomatic subjects, risk factors for cardiovascular disease are significantly associated with objective evidence of ED and increased carotid IMT. FMD response and carotid IMT values are likely to yield additional information beyond traditional risk factors for classifying patients in regard to the likelihood of cardiovascular event. Therapeutic measures with the aim of improving endothelial function and reducing carotid IMT may reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease.