Gender differences in the risk of ischemic stroke associated with aortic atheromas

Marco R. Di Tullio, Ralph L. Sacco, Maria Teresa Savoia, Robert R. Sciacca, Shunichi Homma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Background and Purpose - Atherosclerotic plaque of the proximal portion of the aorta is associated with an increased risk of ischemic stroke in the elderly. Different cutoffs of plaque thickness have been used in the literature for risk stratification and have been applied to both men and women. However, the assumption that the relationship between plaque thickness and stroke risk is the same in the 2 genders has not been proven. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether the prevalence of different degrees of aortic plaque thickness differed in men and women with ischemic stroke. Methods - We performed transesophageal echocardiography in 152 patients aged >59 years with acute ischemic stroke (76 men and 76 women) and in 152 control subjects of similar age (70 men and 82 women). Odds ratios (ORs) for ischemic stroke with 95% CIs for different plaque thickness definitions were calculated for the overall group and separately for men and women by logistic regression analysis after adjusting for age, arterial hypertension, and hypercholesterolemia. Results - Aortic plaques ≥4 nun were significantly more frequent in men than in women (31.5% versus 20.3%, respectively; P=0.025) and were associated with ischemic stroke in both men (adjusted OR 6.0, CI 2.1 to 16.8) and women (adjusted OR 3.2, CI 1.2 to 8.8). However, plaques 3 to 3.9 mm in thickness had a significant association with stroke in women (adjusted OR 4.8, CI 1.7 to 15.0) but not in men (adjusted OR 0.8, CI 0.2 to 3.0). Plaques <3 mm were not associated with a significantly increased stroke risk for either sex. Conclusions - Smaller aortic plaques are significantly associated with ischemic stroke in women but not in men. If the increased prevalence of smaller plaques in women is confirmed to be associated with increased risk for embolic stroke, different cutoff points may have to be adopted in men and women for risk stratification and for decisions regarding medical intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2623-2627
Number of pages5
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Aortic arch
  • Cerebrovascular disorders
  • Echocardiography, transesophageal
  • Stroke, ischemic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Neuroscience(all)


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