THURSDAY, Oct. 11, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Common carotid artery (CCA) wall thickness measured using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is more consistently associated with incident cardiovascular disease (CVD) outcomes than intima-media thickness measured by ultrasound, according to a study published online Oct. 9 in Radiology.

Yiyi Zhang, Ph.D., from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, and colleagues conducted a prospective study involving 698 participants without a history of clinical cardiovascular disease from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis. CCA wall thickness was measured with ultrasound and with non-contrast proton density-weighted and intravenous gadolinium-enhanced MRI. The correlations between wall thickness measured with ultrasound and MRI were assessed with CVD outcomes.

The researchers found that per standard deviation increase in intima-media thickness, the adjusted hazard ratios for coronary heart disease, stroke, and CVD were 1.10, 1.08, and 1.14, respectively. For mean wall thickness measured with proton density-weighted MRI, the corresponding associations were 1.32, 1.48, and 1.37. For mean wall thickness measured with gadolinium-enhanced MRI, the corresponding associations were 1.27, 1.58, and 1.38. MRI wall thickness, but not intima-media thickness, remained associated with outcomes when included simultaneously in the same model.

“What we saw was surprising,” a coauthor said in a statement. “MRI measures of carotid artery wall thickness were more consistently associated with cardiovascular events than was intima-media thickness using ultrasound. This tells us that perhaps MRI could be a better predictor of cardiovascular events, especially stroke.”

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