The relationship between carotid intima-media thickness and carotid plaque in the Northern Manhattan Study

Tatjana Rundek, Hannah Gardener, David Della-Morte, Chuanhui Dong, Digna Cabral, Eduardo Tiozzo, Eugene Roberts, Milita Crisby, Kuen Cheung, Ryan Demmer, Mitchell S.V. Elkind, Ralph L. Sacco, Moise Desvarieux

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Objective: Carotid intima-media thickness (cIMT) and carotid plaque (CP) are proposed biomarkers of subclinical atherosclerosis associated with stroke risk. Whether cIMT and CP are distinct phenotypes or single traits at different stages of atherosclerotic development is unclear. We explored the relationship between these markers in the population-based Northern Manhattan Study. Methods: We used high-resolution ultrasound and validated imaging protocols to study the cross-sectional (N = 1788 stroke-free participants) and prospective relationship (N = 768 with follow-up scan; mean years between examinations = 3.5) between CP and cIMT measured in plaque-free areas. Results: The mean age was 66 ± 9 (40% male, 19% black, 17% white, 61% Hispanic). The mean baseline cIMT was 0.92 ± 0.09 mm, 0.94 ± 0.09 mm among the 58% with prevalent plaque, 0.90 ± 0.08 mm among the 42% without prevalent plaque (p < 0.0001). Each 0.1 mm increase in baseline cIMT was associated with a 1.72-fold increased odds of plaque presence (95%CI = 1.50-1.97), increased plaque thickness (effect on the median = 0.46 mm, p < 0.0001), and increased plaque area (effect on the median = 3.45 mm2, p < 0.0001), adjusting for demographics and vascular risk factors. Elevated baseline cIMT was associated with an increased risk of new plaque in any location at follow-up, but after adjusting for demographics and vascular risk factors this association was no longer present. No association was observed in carotid segment-specific analyses. Conclusion: Increased cIMT was associated with baseline prevalent plaque but did not predict incident plaque independent of other vascular risk factors. This finding suggests that increased cIMT is not an independent predictor of plaque development although these atherosclerotic phenotypes often coexist and share some common vascular determinants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)364-370
Number of pages7
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke K24 NS062737 (Dr. Rundek); R37 NS 29993 (Drs. Sacco, Elkind, Rundek, Dong, Gardener, and Cabral); R01 NS 065114 (Drs. Rundek, Tiozzo, Della-Morte, Gardener, Dong, Cabral, and Sacco); R01 DE-13094 (Drs. Desvarieux, Demmer, Rundek, Sacco); and a Chair in Chronic Disease, École des Hautes Études en Santé Publique, France (Dr. Desvarieux). The funding sources had no involvement in study design; in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; and in the decision to submit the article for publication.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Ireland Ltd.


  • Atherosclerosis
  • Carotid artery
  • Carotid intima media thickness
  • Carotid plaque
  • Carotid ultrasound


Dive into the research topics of 'The relationship between carotid intima-media thickness and carotid plaque in the Northern Manhattan Study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this