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Revista Española de Cardiología (English Edition) Revista Española de Cardiología (English Edition)
Rev Esp Cardiol. 2017;70:551-8 - Vol. 70 Num.07 DOI: 10.1016/j.rec.2017.01.023

Association Between the Presence of Carotid Artery Plaque and Cardiovascular Events in Patients With Genetic Hypercholesterolemia

Ana M. Bea a, Fernando Civeira a,, Estíbaliz Jarauta a, Itziar Lamiquiz-Moneo a, Sofía Pérez-Calahorra a, Victoria Marco-Benedí a, Ana Cenarro a, Rocío Mateo-Gallego a

a Unidad Clínica y de Investigación en Lípidos y Arteriosclerosis, Hospital Universitario Miguel Servet, Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria Aragón (IIS Aragón), Zaragoza, Spain

Refers to


Cardiovascular disease. Carotid plaque. Genetic hypercholesterolemia. Familial hypercholesterolemia. Prospective study.


Introduction and objectives

The equations used in the general population to calculate cardiovascular risk are not useful in genetic hypercholesterolemia (GH). Carotid plaque detection has proved useful in cardiovascular prediction and risk reclassification but there have been no studies of its usefulness in GH. The aim of this study was to determine the association between the presence of carotid artery plaque and the occurrence of cardiovascular events in patients with GH.


This study included 1778 persons with GH. The mean follow-up until the occurrence of cardiovascular events was 6.26 years. At presentation, the presence of carotid artery plaque was studied by high-resolution ultrasound.


Carotid artery plaque was found in 661 (37.2%) patients: 31.9% with familial hypercholesterolemia, 39.8% with familial combined hyperlipidemia, 45.5% with dysbetalipoproteinemia, and 43.2% with polygenic hypercholesterolemia. During follow-up, 58 patients had a cardiovascular event. Event rates were 6354/100 000 (95%CI, 4432.4-8275.6) in the group with plaque and 1432/100 000 (95%CI, 730.6-2134.3) in the group without plaque, with significant differences between the 2 groups (P < .001). The relative risk of an event was 4.34 (95CI%, 2.44-7.71; P < .001) times higher in patients with plaque and was 2.40 (95%CI, 1.27-4.56; P = .007) times higher after adjustment for major risk factors. The number of carotid artery plaques was positively associated with the risk of cardiovascular events.


Most cardiovascular events occur in a subgroup of patients who can be identified by carotid plaque detection. These results support the use of plaque screening in this population and should help in risk stratification and treatment in GH.


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1885-5857/© 2017 Sociedad Española de Cardiología. Published by Elsevier España, S.L.U. All rights reserved