The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence and degree of carotid disease in patients with premature lower-extremity atherosclerosis. Seventy-six young men (mean age at onset of symptoms 42 ± 0.5 years with premature lower extremity atherosclerosis who underwent complete carotid duplex scans were studied. The mean lowest ankle: brachial index was 0.49 ± 0.02. Forty-seven patients (62%) required interventions to treat advanced leg symptoms, and 18 (24%) experienced disease progression during the study period. Carotid duplex scans showed internal carotid occlusions in eight (11%); advanced or critical plaque disease (60–99% diameter loss) in 14 (18%); moderate plaque disease (40–59% diameter loss) in 16 (21%); mild plaque disease (intimal thickening or 1–39% diameter loss) in 18 (24%); and normal carotid arteries in 20 (26%). Comparing the 20 subjects with normal carotid arteries to the 56 with any evidence of disease, there were no differences in age of onset, risk factors, coronary artery disease, mean ankle: brachial index, number of interventions, disease progression, amputation, or death. Fifteen (27%) of the patients with carotid atherosclerosis ultimately developed transient ischemic attack or stroke; 13 of these had advanced carotid stenoses or carotid occlusions. In conclusion, carotid plaque disease is prevalent among patients with premature atherosclerosis of the lower extremity. The presence of carotid atherosclerosis is not related to the degree of lower extremity atherosclerosis, nor to the rate of disease progression. Carotid duplex scans are indicated to screen these young patients for compelling lesions that might warrant prophylactic carotid endarterectomy.
- carotid stenosis
- premature atherosclerosis
- risk factors
- young adults
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine