Risk factors for popliteal and carotid wall thicknesses in the atherosclerosis risk in communities (ARIC) study

Adrian S. Dobs, F. Javier Nieto, Moyses Szklo, Ralph Barnes, A. Richey Sharrett, Wen Jene Ko

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The authors evaluated risk factors potentially associated with the development of popliteal artery atherosclerosis in a population-based study and compared them with factors linked to carotid wall intimal-medial thickness. The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study is a longitudinal investigation of cardiovascular disease in 15,800 individuals. The present analyses are based on the baseline popliteal and carotid ultrasonography examination in 10,002 subjects conducted in 1987-1989. After- adjustment for covariates, both carotid and popliteal intimal-medial thicknesses were strongly associated with male sex and age (p < 0.01), having a graded relation with increasing quartiles of plasma total cholesterol and low density lipoprotein cholesterol and with plasma triglycerides (women only for popliteal) (p < 0.01). An inverse correlation was noted between plasma high density lipoprotein cholesterol and carotid (p < 0.01) and popliteal (women only) (p < 0.05) intimal-medial thicknesses. Cigarette use (p < 0.01), a history of diabetes mellitus (p < 0.01), alcohol use, elevated systolic pressures (p < 0.01), and fibrinogen levels (p < 0.01) were directly associated with both popliteal and carotid intimal-medial thicknesses. Although menopause was associated with thickened carotid (p < 0.01) and popliteal (p < 0.05) intimal-medial thicknesses, hormone replacement therapy was associated with thinner carotid walls only (p < 0.05). Although there were some differences, many of the classical risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease were also related to early thickening of both the popliteal and the carotid artery walls.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1055-1067
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 15 1999


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Carotid arteries
  • Peripheral vascular diseases
  • Popliteal artery
  • Ultrasonography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology

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