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Early Atherosclerosis Tied to Lifetime Cardiovascular Risk

High prevalence of subclinical disease seen in patients with low 10-year risk but high lifetime risk

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 14 (HealthDay News) -- In individuals with a low 10-year risk of cardiovascular disease, having a high lifetime risk of cardiovascular disease is associated with more signs of subclinical atherosclerosis, according to a report published online Jan. 12 in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Jarett D. Berry, M.D. from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and colleagues examined the association between subclinical atherosclerosis (coronary artery calcium or carotid intima-media thickness), 10-year cardiovascular disease risk, and lifetime cardiovascular disease risk in 4,064 individuals aged 50 years or younger from two studies. A low 10-year risk was defined as less than 10 percent and a low lifetime risk was defined as less than 39 percent.

The researchers found that among patients with a low 10-year risk, those with a high lifetime risk had a significantly higher intima-media thickness, a higher prevalence of coronary artery calcium in both men and women, and a significantly higher incidence of coronary artery calcium progression in both men and women, compared with those with a low lifetime risk.

"Individuals with low 10-year but high lifetime risk have a greater subclinical disease burden and greater incidence of atherosclerotic progression compared with individuals with low 10-year and low lifetime risk, even at younger ages," Berry and colleagues conclude.

One of the study authors reports a financial relationship with the pharmaceutical industry.

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