Risk factors for carotid artery atherosclerosis

S. Podobnik-Sarkanji, V. Demarin, T. Rundek, A. Lovrencic-Huzjan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Atherosclerosis of the carotid arteries leads to stroke in 40% of patients with cerebrovascular disease. A slight decline in the incidence and mortality from cerebrovascular disease, which has been observed in recent years, can be explained by earlier diagnosis, follow-up and removal of risk factors for carotid artery atherosclerosis. A group of 83 patients with symptomatic or asymptomatic carotid atherosclerotic lesions were analyzed. Their carotid plaques, and grade and distribution of carotid stenosis were determined by Color Doppler Flow Imaging using an Acuson 128XP device. In each patient, the history of stroke and putative risk factors, such as age, sex, hypertension, obesity, cigarette smoking, use of oral contraceptives, diabetes mellitus and alcohol consumption, was taken. The values of cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL-cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, apoprotein A and apoprotein B were determined by laboratory tests. The extent and severity of atherosclerosis of carotid arteries were assessed by the number of plaques and grade of carotid artery stenosis. Risk factors were correlated with the extent and severity of atherosclerotic lesions of carotid arteries. The prevalence of atherosclerosis and severity of vascular narrowing appeared to increase with age, especially in the 45-64 and 65-74 age groups, and were found to decrease in the ≥75 age group. Results of the multivariant analysis indicated the atherosclerotic changes of carotid arteries to be closely related to increased levels of cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol. They also showed the severity of carotid artery atherosclerosis to significantly correlate with age, obesity, hypertension, cigarette smoking, diabetes mellitus, increased levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL-cholesterol and apoprotein B, and decreased levels of HDL-cholesterol and apoprotein A. Carotid plaques were mainly localized in the proximal part of internal carotid artery, circularly, laterally and, less frequently, on the medial wall. Analysis of the distribution and grade of stenosis revealed its incidence to be higher in men (p<0.001). There were no significant differences in the grade and incidence of carotid stenosis among various risk groups, e.g., those with hypertension, cigarette smoking, diabetes mellitus or alcohol consumption. Only physically inactive patients showed a higher incidence of stenosis than those practicing physical exercise. When the levels of cholesterol and HDL-cholesterol were taken as determining risk factors, the subjects with increased cholesterol and those with decreased HDL-cholesterol had significantly more plaques.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-155
Number of pages11
JournalActa Clinica Croatica
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • Carotid atherosclerosis
  • Risk factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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