Race and sex differences in the distribution of cerebral atherosclerosis

R. J. Wityk, D. Lehman, M. Klag, J. Coresh, H. Ahn, B. Litt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and Purpose: The purpose of this study was to assess the influence of race, sex, and other risk factors on the location of atherosclerotic occlusive lesions in cerebral vessels. Previous angiographic studies of patients with stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) suggest that extracranial atherosclerosis is more common in whites and intracranial disease is more common in blacks. Noninvasive techniques such as duplex ultrasound, transcranial Doppler (TCD), and magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) allow vascular assessment of a more representative proportion of patients than does conventional angiography alone. Methods: Consecutive patients evaluated at a community hospital for stroke or TIA over a 2-year period were reviewed. Lesions were defined as a 50% or greater atherosclerotic stenosis by angiography, duplex ultrasound, or TCD, or a moderate stenosis by MRA. Results: Whites were more likely than blacks to have extracranial carotid artery lesions (33% versus 15%, P = .001), but the proportion of patients with intracranial lesions was similar (24% versus 22%). Men were more likely to have intracranial lesions than women (29% versus 14%, P = .03). When multivariate logistic regression analysis was used, white race was the only predictor for extracranial carotid artery lesions, and male sex was the only predictor for intracranial lesions. The cause of stroke/TIA was extracranial carotid artery disease in 8% and intracranial disease in 8% of all patients in the study. Conclusions: The distribution of cerebral atherosclerosis is influenced by race and sex but not by other vascular risk factors. In our patient population, intracranial disease is as common a cause of cerebral ischemia as extracranial carotid disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1974-1980
Number of pages7
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1996


  • atherosclerosis
  • carotid arteries
  • cerebral arteries
  • racial differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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