Does the association of risk factors and atherosclerosis change with age? An analysis of the combined ARIC and CHS cohorts

Academic Article


  • Introduction: A decrease in the estimated relative risk of cerebrovascular and cardiovascular diseases associated with known disease risk factors has been observed among elderly cohorts perhaps suggesting that continued risk factor management in the elderly may not be as efficacious as with younger age groups. In this paper, the differential magnitude of the association of risk factors with atherosclerosis across the age spectrum from 45 years to older than 75 years is presented. Methods: Subclinical atherosclerosis as measured by carotid ultrasonography and risk factor prevalence were assessed using similar methods among participants aged 45 to 64 years in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study and among participants 65 years and older n the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS). Pooling these two cohorts provided data on the relationship of risk factors and atherosclerosis on nearly 19,000 participants over a broad age range. Regression analyses were used to assess the consistency of the magnitude of the association of risk factors with atherosclerosis across the age spectrum separately for black and white participants in cross-sectional analyses. Results: As expected, each of the risk factors was globally (across all ages) associated with increased atherosclerosis. However, the magnitude of the association did not differ across the age spectrum for hypertension, low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-c), fibrinogen, or body mass index (BMI). For whites, there was a significantly greater impact of smoking and HDL-C among older age strata but a smaller impact of diabetes. For black women, the impact of HDL-C decreased among the older age strata. Conclusions: These data suggest that most risk factors continue to be associated with increased atherosclerosis at older ages, possibly suggesting a continued value in investigation of strategies to reduce atherosclerosis by controlling risk factors at older ages.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • Stroke  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Howard G; Manolio TA; Burke GL; Wolfson SK; O'Leary DH
  • Start Page

  • 1693
  • End Page

  • 1701
  • Volume

  • 28
  • Issue

  • 9