Relationship between carotid artery stiffness and retinal arteriolar narrowing in healthy middle-aged persons.

Kleins Lab // Publications // Apr 01 2004

PubMed ID: 14988577

Author(s): Liao D, Wong TY, Klein R, Jones D, Hubbard L, Sharrett AR. Relationship between carotid artery stiffness and retinal arteriolar narrowing in healthy middle-aged persons. Stroke. 2004 Apr;35(4):837-42. Epub 2004 Feb 26. PMID 14988577

Journal: Stroke, Volume 35, Issue 4, Apr 2004

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE Both carotid atherosclerosis and cerebral arteriolosclerosis are associated with stroke. However, the relationship between carotid atherosclerosis and cerebral arteriolosclerosis is unknown. We examined the association between carotid artery stiffness, a marker of early atherosclerosis, and retinal arteriolar narrowing, a marker of arteriolosclerosis, in healthy middle-aged people.

METHODS This population-based, cross-sectional study involved 8031 men and women 45 to 64 years of age. Carotid arterial stiffness was estimated from high-resolution ultrasonic echo tracking of the left common carotid artery and was defined as adjusted arterial diameter change (AADC, micro, adjusted for diastolic blood pressure, pulse pressure and pulse pressure squared, and diastolic arterial diameter and height, with smaller AADC reflecting greater arterial stiffness). Generalized retinal arteriolar narrowing was estimated from measurements of diameters of retinal vessels from digitized retinal photographs and summarized as the arteriole-to-venule ratio (AVR, with smaller AVR indicating greater retinal arteriolar narrowing).

RESULTS After controlling for age, sex, ethnicity, hypertension, diabetes, and cigarette smoking, decreasing AADC was associated with decreasing AVR. The mean AADCs, comparing the lowest and highest quartiles of AVR, were 394 (SE, 4) and 409 (SE, 4) micro, respectively (P<0.01). The pattern of the graded association between carotid arterial stiffness and generalized retinal arteriolar narrowing was similar among persons with and without hypertension.

CONCLUSIONS Greater stiffness of the carotid arteries is related to generalized narrowing of the retinal arterioles independent of blood pressure and other vascular factors. This supports a relationship between macrovascular and microvascular disease processes important in stroke pathogenesis.