Lung function linked to carotid atherosclerosis in the elderly

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Last Updated: 2001-07-16 9:32:03 EDT (Reuters Health)

WESTPORT, CT (Reuters Health) – Reduced peak expiratory flow (PEF) in the elderly appears to be associated with an increased risk of carotid atherosclerotic plaque, French researchers report in the July 9th issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

Dr. Mahmoud Zureik, of the National Institute of Health and Medical Research, Villejuif, and colleagues note that numerous population-based studies have indicated associations between impaired lung function and subsequent coronary heart disease and mortality. However, "the relative contribution of atherosclerosis in these associations is unknown."

To investigate, the researchers studied 656 volunteers aged 59 to 71 years. All were free of cardiovascular disease and stroke. PEF was measured at baseline, relative values were calculated and ultrasound scanning was used to assess carotid plaque at baseline and at 2- and 4-year followup.

In total, 16.8% of the subjects developed plaques in previously normal carotid segments or developed new plaques in segments that already had plaques. Individuals in the lowest quintile of relative PEF values had an unadjusted odds ratio for such plaques 3.07 times that of those in the highest quintile.

Adjustment for known cardiovascular risk factors "did not markedly change the results" and this odds ratio remained a "highly significant" 2.84. Furthermore, in subjects with a relative PEF of 80% or less, the adjusted odds ratio for plaques was 2.32 times that of those with a greater relative PEF value.

Although the nature of the association is unknown, the researchers conclude that "assessment of lung function, which is simple and inexpensive, could help identify a population at high risk of atherosclerosis development and coronary heart disease."

Arch Intern Med 2001;161:1669-1676.

-Westport Newsroom 203 319 2700

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