Traditional Risk Factors are Causally Related to Carotid Intima-Media Thickness Progression: Inferences from Observational Cohort Studies and Interventional Trials

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In the present review, associations between traditional vascular risk factors (VRFs) and carotid intima-medial thickness progression (C-IMTp) as well as the effects of therapies for VRFs control on C-IMTp were appraised to infer causality between each VRF and C-IMTp. Cohort studies indicate that smoking, binge drinking, fatness, diabetes, hypertension and hypercholesterolemia are associated with accelerated C-IMTp. An exception is physical activity, with mixed data. Interventions for the control of obesity, diabetes, hypertension and hypercholesterolemia decelerate C-IMTp. Conversely, scarce information is available regarding the effect of smoking cessation, stop of excessive alcohol intake and management of the metabolic syndrome. Altogether, these data support a causative role of several traditional VRFs on C-IMTp. Shortcomings in study design and/or ultrasonographic protocols may account for most negative studies, which underlines the importance of a careful consideration of methodological aspects in investigations using C-IMTp as the outcome.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCurrent Pharmaceutical Design
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Dec 13 2019


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