Three-dimensional ultrasound measurements of carotid vessel wall and plaque thickness and their relationship with pulmonary abnormalities in ex-smokers without airflow limitation

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The International Journal of Cardiovascular Imaging





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The relationship between carotid disease and modestly abnormal airflow in ex-smokers without chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is not well-understood. We generated 3D ultrasound measurements of carotid vessel-wall-plus-plaque thickness (VWT) and vessel wall volume (VWV) to quantify and evaluate such carotid ultrasound measurements in ex- and never-smokers without airflow limitation. These patients did not fulfill the diagnostic criteria for COPD. We also investigated the relationship of carotid atherosclerosis with pulmonary phenotypes of COPD. We evaluated 61 subjects without a clinical diagnosis of pulmonary or vascular diseases including 34 never-smokers (72 ± 6 year) and 27 ex-smokers (73 ± 9 year). We measured mean VWT ([Formula: see text]) and mean VWT specific to carotid regions-of-interest ([Formula: see text]) and evaluated potential differences between ex- and never-smokers. Carotid ultrasound and pulmonary disease measurement relationships were also evaluated using correlation coefficients (r) and multivariate regression analyses. Ex-smokers had a significantly greater [Formula: see text] (p = 0.003) and [Formula: see text] (p < 0.00001) than never-smokers, whereas a significant difference between the two groups was not detected by VWV (p = 1.0). There were significant correlations between the ventilation defect percent (VDP) measured by MRI with [Formula: see text] (r = 0.42, p = 0.001) and [Formula: see text] (r = 0.56, p = 0.00001). Multivariate regression models showed that VDP significantly predicted [Formula: see text] (β = 0.38, p = 0.004) and [Formula: see text] (β = 0.50, p = 0.00001). VWT-based measurements detected differences in vessel-wall-plus-plaque burden in ex- and never-smokers, which were not revealed using VWV. There were significant correlations between cardiovascular and pulmonary disease biomarkers in these ex-smokers who did not have a clinical diagnosis of pulmonary or carotid disease.


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