Relationship between Carotid Artery Stiffness and Retinal Arteriolar Narrowing in Healthy Middle-Aged Persons

Duanping Liao, Tien Yin Wong, Ronald Klein, Daniel Jones, Larry Hubbard, A. Richey Sharrett

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86 Scopus citations


Background and Purpose-Both carotid atherosclerosis and cerebral arteriolosclerosis are associated with stroke. However, the relationship between carotid atherosclerosis and cerebral arteriolosclerosis is unknown. We examined the association between carotid artery stiffness, a marker of early atherosclerosis, and retinal arteriolar narrowing, a marker of arteriolosclerosis, in healthy middle-aged people. Methods-This population-based, cross-sectional study involved 8031 men and women 45 to 64 years of age. Carotid arterial stiffness was estimated from high-resolution ultrasonic echo tracking of the left common carotid artery and was defined as adjusted arterial diameter change (AADC, μ, adjusted for diastolic blood pressure, pulse pressure and pulse pressure squared, and diastolic arterial diameter and height, with smaller AADC reflecting greater arterial stiffness). Generalized retinal arteriolar narrowing was estimated from measurements of diameters of retinal vessels from digitized retinal photographs and summarized as the arteriole-to-venule ratio (AVR, with smaller AVR indicating greater retinal arteriolar narrowing). Results-After controlling for age, sex, ethnicity, hypertension, diabetes, and cigarette smoking, decreasing AADC was associated with decreasing AVR. The mean AADCs, comparing the lowest and highest quartiles of AVR, were 394 (SE, 4) and 409 (SE, 4) μ, respectively (P < 0.01). The pattern of the graded association between carotid arterial stiffness and generalized retinal arteriolar narrowing was similar among persons with and without hypertension. Conclusions-Greater stiffness of the carotid arteries is related to generalized narrowing of the retinal arterioles independent of blood pressure and other vascular factors. This supports a relationship between macrovascular and microvascular disease processes important in stroke pathogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)837-842
Number of pages6
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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