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Early-life markers of atherosclerosis using aortic and carotid intima-media thickness: an assessment of methods to account for child size

journal contribution
posted on 2015-09-01, 00:00 authored by Kate MccloskeyKate Mccloskey, Peter VuillerminPeter Vuillermin, J B Carlin, M R Skilton, O Raitakari, K Jachno, M Cheung, D P Burgner, A-L Ponsonby
Background.—Distinguishing pathological from physiological relationships between vessel size and aortic intima-media thickness (aIMT) is an important challenge, especially in growing children. We examined the relationship between childhood vessel diameter and aIMT and assessed common analytic approaches used to address this relationship.

Methods.—We analyzed aIMT in two population-derived cohorts; 6-week-old infants and 19-year-olds. We simulated datasets in which we assumed a simple physiological relationship between vessel diameter and aIMT, and then superimposed possible pathological effects on aIMT; (a) intrauterine growth retardation, (b) macrosomia and (c) both intrauterine growth retardation and macrosomia. Using simulated datasets and cohorts, we evaluated analytic strategies including those in which the relationship between vessel diameter and aIMT was (a) ignored, (b) adjusted for by dividing aIMT by weight, or (c) adjusted for using varying regression techniques.

Results.—aIMT was found to increase in proportion to vessel diameter in both cohorts (138 μm/mm at 6 weeks and 52 μm/mm at 19 years of age). Simply dividing aIMT by weight produced negative associations with weight across all datasets. By contrast, adjusting for vessel diameter as a covariate enabled accurate distinction of the direction of the association between aIMT and weight in all simulated datasets. These results were replicated in the cohort studies for both aIMT and carotid intima-media thickness.

Conclusion.—There is a physiological relationship between vessel diameter and aIMT. Simply dividing aIMT by weight may lead to incorrect assumptions regarding the relationship between weight and aIMT. However, the physiological relationship is appropriately estimated by including vessel diameter as a covariate in regression.



Journal of vascular ultrasound






119 - 126


Society for Vascular Ultrasound


Lanham, Md.





Publication classification

C Journal article; C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2015, Society for Vascular Ultrasound

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