Background and Purpose: The purpose of this study was to show dynamic changes in carotid and vertebral artery using carotid Doppler ultrasonography (DUS) through a long-term follow- up exam, and determine their associations with stroke recurrence.
Methods: We consecutively enrolled stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) patients who had undergone DUS more than twice with intervals of three months or more. Stroke recurrence during follow-up was also investigated by reviewing medical records. Progress or regress of plaque was defined as more than 0.1 mm change from the initial scan with a semi-quantitative measurement. The development of new plaque was also regarded as plaque progress. Increased intima-media thickness and plaque presence were interpreted at the initial and follow-up scans. Factors related to progression or regression were analyzed. The relationship between plaque change and stroke recurrence was investigated.
Results: A total of 201 patients were enrolled (186 ischemic stroke patients and 15 TIA patients). There were 61 (30.3%) females. Their mean age was 64.2 ± 9.9 years. During a follow-up of 35.0 ± 22.6 (mean ± SD) months, plaque progress was observed in 92 (45.8%) and plaque regress in 13 (6.5%). Stroke recurred in 18 patients. Plaque progression showed no significant association with age, risk factors, statin use, or subtype. After adjustment of age, sex, diabetes, and stroke subtype, multiple logistic regression showed a significant association of plaque progression with stroke recurrence (odds ratio: 3.8, 95% confidence interval: 1.1 to 13.1, p = 0.034). Patients with plaque regress were significantly younger than those without plaque regress (57.8 years vs. 64.6 years, p = 0.041).
Conclusion: Plaque progression occurred in 46% of stroke or TIA patients. Plaque progression was significantly associated with clinical stroke recurrence. Plaque regressed in 6.5% of patients. Patients with regression were younger than those without.
Keywords: Carotid atherosclerosis, ultrasonography, stroke, transient ischemic attack, prognosis, stroke recurrence.
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