Interchangeability of carotid and femoral intima-media thickness in risk stratification

E. R. Rietzschel, M. L. De Buyzere, D. A. Duprez, D. L. Clement

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background. Carotid intima-media thickness (c-IMT) is an intermediate phenotype not only for the local but also the global arteriosclerotic status, a concept which has been validated by its ability to act as a marker for future cardiovascular and cerebrovascular events. Whether the association between c-IMT and risk factors, distant atherosclerotic disease and prognosis are the sole prerogative of the carotid artery, or whether these findings can be extrapolated to other arterial sites is less well studied. In view of the concept of vascular heterogeneity, we measured the IMT in a muscular, lower extremity artery, the common femoral (f-IMT), and in elastic upper extremity artery, the common carotid, in apparently healthy individuals and explored the relationship with risk factors and the individuals' 10-year cardiovascular (CV) risk, calculated using the Framingham systolic blood pressure equation. Methods. A population of 156 apparently healthy normotensive Caucasian volunteers between 18 and 65 years was studied (mean age 43±13 years; 68 men, 88 women; mean arterial blood pressure 126±15/70±10 mmHg). The c-IMT and f-IMT were measured using a 10 MHz vascular linear array transducer at the far walls 1 to 2 centimetres proximal to the right common carotid and right common femoral artery bifurcations, respectively. Risk factors were assessed and the 10-year cardiovascular risk was calculated using the Framingham systolic blood pressure equation. Results. The median c-IMT was 0.52 mm (interquartile range 0.45-0.62 mm) and f-IMT was 0.52 mm (0.39-0.67). Both parameters were significantly correlated (r=0.363; p<0.01) and both were significantly correlated to the calculated 10-year CV risk (r=0.579; p<0.01 and r=0.574; p<0.01 for the carotid and c-IMT and f-IMT, respectively). Median risk was low: 2.11% (0.27-5.50). Although measures of agreement were higher for the f-IMT versus risk (0.47) than for the c-IMT versus risk (0.30), the former showed a significantly wider scatter with increasing age and with quartiles of CV risk. The c-IMT and f-IMT do not share determinant risk factors to the same extent and with only 20% of mutual variance explained, cannot be regarded as interchangeable. Conclusions. Although the c-IMT and f-IMT are significantly intercorrelated and correlate to the calculated 10-year CV risk, they are not interchangeable. While the f-IMT is less suited as a continuous variable for risk stratification in a low-risk population, our data suggest its possible use as a dichotomised risk marker.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-46
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Angiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2001


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Carotid arteries
  • Femoral artery
  • Risk factors
  • Tunica intima, physiopathology


Dive into the research topics of 'Interchangeability of carotid and femoral intima-media thickness in risk stratification'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this