Background Evidence has pointed towards differences in the burden of arteriosclerosis according to its location and sex. Yet there is a scarcity of population-based data on aggregated sex-specific cardiovascular risk profiles, instead of single risk factors, and mortality risk according to the location of arteriosclerosis. We assessed sex-specific cardiovascular risk profiles and mortality risk associated with arteriosclerosis.

Methods From the population-based Rotterdam Study, 2357 participants (mean age 69 years, 53% women) underwent non-contrast computed tomography to quantify calcification, as a proxy for arteriosclerosis, in the coronary arteries (CAC), aortic arch (AAC), extracranial (ECAC) and intracranial carotid arteries (ICAC), vertebrobasilar arteries (VBAC), and aortic valve (AVC). Principal component analysis (PCA) of eight distinct cardiovascular risk factors was performed, separately for women and men, to derive risk profiles based on the shared variance between factors. We used sex-stratified multivariable logistic regression to examine the associations between PCA-derived risk profiles and severe calcification at different locations. We investigated the associations of severe calcification with mortality risk using sex-stratified multivariable Cox regression.

Results PCA identified three cardiovascular risk profiles in both sexes: (1) anthropometry, glucose, and HDL cholesterol; (2) blood pressure; and (3) smoking and total cholesterol. In women, the strongest associations were found for profile 2 with severe ECAC and ICAC (adjusted OR [95% CI] 1.32 [1.14–1.53]) and for profile 3 with severe at all locations, except AVC. In men, the strongest associations were found for profile 2 with VBAC (1.31 [1.12–1.52]) and profile 3 with severe AAC (1.28 [1.09–1.51]). ECAC and AVC in women and CAC in men showed the strongest, independent associations with cardiovascular mortality (HR [95% CI] 2.11 [1.22–3.66], 2.05 [1.21–3.49], 2.24 [1.21–3.78], respectively).

Conclusions Our findings further underline the existence of sex- and location-specific differences in the etiology and consequences of arteriosclerosis. Future research should unravel which distinct pathological processes underlie differences in risk profiles for arteriosclerosis.,
BMC Medicine
Department of Radiology

van der Toorn, J.E., Rueda-Ochoa, O., van der Schaft, N., Vernooij, M., Ikram, A., Bos, D., & Kavousi, M. (2020). Arterial calcification at multiple sites: sex-specific cardiovascular risk profiles and mortality risk-the Rotterdam Study. BMC Medicine, 18(1). doi:10.1186/s12916-020-01722-7