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International Angiology 2007 December;26(4):346-52


language: English

Extracoronary atherosclerosis in patients with chronic ischemic heart disease: relationship with risk factors and the severity of coronary artery disease

Pipitone S., Corrado E., Muratori I., Novo G., Evola S., Fabbiano A., Trapani R., Zarcone P., Assennato P., Hoffmann E., Novo S.

Department of Cardiovascular Diseases, Post-graduate School of Cardiology and Division of Cardiology Department of Internal Medicine, Cardiovascular and Nephro-Urological Diseases “Paolo Giaccone” University Hospital, University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy


Aim. The aim of the present study was to investigate the prevalence of carotid and/or peripheral atherosclerotic lesions in patients with chronic ischemic heart disease (previous acute myocardial infarction [AMI] or stable angina).
Methods. We studied 248 patients (168 male and 80 female), mean age 63±10 years, which were investigated for traditional risk factors. Systolic blood pressure, body mass index, lipid profile, fasting glucose and plasma fibrinogen were also measured. We assessed the prevalence of atherosclerotic lesions in carotid and lower limb arteries, by ultrasound duplex scanning (UDS).
Results. Angina was present in 33% of the patients, a previous AMI in 67%, a previous transient ischemic attack in 4% and a previous ischemic stroke in 6% of patients. A total of 195 patients underwent coronary angiography: 1 vessel was involved in 48% of patients, 2 vessels in 33%, and 3 vessels in 19%. Detecting peripheral atherosclerotic lesions by UDS, increased intima-media thickness (IMT) or plaques in carotid arteries were found in 232 patients (94%) and carotid stenosis >70% in 13 patients (5%). In lower limb arteries, IMT or plaques were present in 202 patients (82%) and a stenosis >70% in 18 patients (7%). Severity of coronary artery disease (CAD) was correlated to extracoronary atherosclerosis: carotid and lower limb arterial atherosclerosis was detected in 73% of patients with 1 vessel, in 83% of patients with 2 vessel, in 87% of those with 3 vessel CAD.
Conclusion. Our study suggests that in patients with CAD, it is useful to screen the peripheral circulation by non-invasive tests, such as UDS. Patients with the diagnosis of ischemic heart disease and combined extracoronary atherosclerosis need a careful follow-up and a more aggressive therapy for secondary prevention.

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