Background and Purpose The relation between arterial wall (intimal-medial) thickness and lumen narrowing is complex and has previously been studied predominantly at autopsy. B-mode ultrasound affords the opportunity to visualize both wall and lumen of the extracranial carotid arteries in vivo. Several studies have quantified the relation of various independent variables to wall thickness of carotid arteries in population-based samples, but the relation of age and wall thickness to interadventitial and lumen diameter has not previously been investigated in these samples. MethodsWe used B-mode ultrasound to quantify the relation of arterial lumen diameter to age, arterial wall thickness, and arterial size (interadventitial diameter) of the extracranial carotid artery in 13 711 members of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) cohort. ResultsMen had greater interadventitial diameters, thicker walls, and wider lumens than women. Wall thicknesses of the common carotid artery were greater by 21% in men and 22% in women aged 60 to 64 years compared with those aged 45 to 49 years (P<.001). However, lumen diameters were also greater in older individuals because interadventitial diameters were greater. Wall thickness of the internal carotid artery was also associated positively with age, but the lumen diameter of the internal carotid artery was smaller in older individuals. Diameters of the carotid artery segments also differed in their relation to arterial wall thickening. The lumen of the internal carotid artery was uniformly progressively narrower with increasing wall thickness. For the common carotid artery greater wall thickness bore only a small correlation with narrower lumen diameter for thickening of the arterial wall up to 1.2 mm, but the association was more marked for the range of thicknesses between 1.2 mm and 2.5 mm. ConclusionsWhen arterial enlargement accompanies increased wall thickness, less lumen constriction results than expected. Quantification of these complex relations in vivo may provide new insight into the pathogenesis of symptoms related to vascular disease. Narrowing of the internal carotid artery lumen associated with thicker walls is consistent with the observation that stenosis develops in this region and often leads to symptoms.
- Arterial occlusive diseases
- Carotid arteries
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Advanced and Specialized Nursing