Prevalence and distribution of atherosclerosis in a low- to intermediate-risk population: assessment with whole-body MR angiography

Matthew A. Lambert, Jonathan R. Weir-McCall, Marco Salsano, Stephen J. Gandy, Daniel Levin, Ian Cavin, Roberta Littleford, Jennifer A. MacFarlane, Shona Z. Matthew, Richard S. Nicholas, Allan D. Struthers, Frank Sullivan, Shelley A. Henderson, Richard D. White, Jill J.F. Belch, J. Graeme Houston*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To quantify the burden and distribution of asymptomatic atherosclerosis in a population with a low to intermediate risk of cardiovascular disease. Materials and Between June 2008 and February 2013, 1528 participants Methods: with 10-year risk of cardiovascular disease less than 20% were prospectively enrolled. They underwent whole-body magnetic resonance (MR) angiography at 3.0 T by using a two-injection, four-station acquisition technique. Thirty-one arterial segments were scored according to maximum stenosis. Scores were summed and normalized for the number of assessable arterial segments to provide a standardized atheroma score (SAS). Multiple linear regression was performed to assess effects of risk factors on atheroma burden. Results: A total of 1513 participants (577 [37.9%] men; median age, 53.5 years; range, 40–83 years) completed the study protocol. Among 46903 potentially analyzable segments, 46601 (99.4%) were interpretable. Among these, 2468 segments (5%) demonstrated stenoses, of which 1649 (3.5%) showed stenosis less than 50% and 484 (1.0%) showed stenosis greater than or equal to 50%. Vascular stenoses were distributed throughout the body with no localized distribution. Seven hundred forty-seven (49.4%) participants had at least one stenotic vessel, and 408 (27.0%) participants had multiple stenotic vessels. At multivariable linear regression, SAS correlated with age (B = 3.4; 95% confidence interval: 2.61, 4.20), heart rate (B = 1.23; 95% confidence interval: 0.51, 1.95), systolic blood pressure (B = 0.02; 95% confidence interval: 0.01, 0.03), smoking status (B = 0.79; 95% confidence interval: 0.44, 1.15), and socioeconomic status (B = 20.06; 95% confidence interval: 20.10, 20.02) (P , .01 for all). Conclusion: Whole-body MR angiography identifies early vascular disease at a population level. Although disease prevalence is low on a per-vessel level, vascular disease is common on a per-participant level, even in this low- to intermediate-risk cohort.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)795-804
Number of pages10
Issue number3
Early online date1 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018


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