Association between age and progression of carotid artery atherosclerosis: a serial high resolution magnetic resonance imaging study

  • Mingming Lu
  • Peng Peng
  • Huiyu Qiao
  • Yuanyuan Cui
  • Lu Ma
  • Bao Cui
  • Jianming CaiEmail author
  • Xihai ZhaoEmail author
Original Paper


This study aimed to investigate the association between age and progression of carotid atherosclerotic plaques using serial high resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Symptomatic patients who had carotid atherosclerosis with 30–70% stenosis were enrolled in this study. Carotid MRI was performed at baseline and follow-up time point (≥ 6 months after baseline), respectively. The characteristics of carotid plaque progression among different age groups (> 75 years old, 60–75 years old and < 60 years old) were compared. Logistic regression was performed to relate age with carotid plaque progression. Of recruited 84 patients, 73 (mean age, 66.5 ± 11.4 years old; males, 82.2%) with 96 plaques were included in the final analysis. Compared with younger patients, older ones had significantly higher incidence of calcification in carotid plaques (> 75 years old: 91.3%, 60–75 years old: 65.7% and < 60 years old: 55.3%, p = 0.013), greater annual change of carotid wall volume (> 75 years old: 39.0 (4.3–104.6) mm3, 60–75 years old: 28.7 (− 28.0 to 73.7) mm3 and < 60 years old: 4.8 (− 27.1–31.9) mm3, p = 0.032) and maximum carotid wall area (> 75 years old: 6.1 (− 3.5 to 17.2) mm2, 60–75 years old: 2.4 (− 4.7 to 15.1) mm2 and < 60 years old: 1.4 (− 5.8 to 6.9) mm2, p = 0.046). Age (OR 1.44; 95% CI 1.10–1.89; p = 0.009) and hypertension (OR 4.61; 95% CI 1.41–15. 02; p = 0.011) were independent predictors in discriminating upper quartile of annual change of carotid wall volume after adjusting for all clinical factors. Older patients have faster progression rate in carotid plaques than younger ones and age is independently associated with carotid plaque progression. Our findings suggest that the carotid plaques of older patients need to be monitored more frequently.


Carotid atherosclerosis Disease progression Risk factors Magnetic resonance imaging 



This study was supported by the Grants of National Natural Science Foundation of China (81771825), Beijing Science and Technology Project (D171100003017003), and Ministry of Science and Technology of China (2017YFC1307904).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

The study protocol conforms to the ethical guidelines of the 1975 Declaration of Helsinki and was approved by Institution’s ethics committee on research on humans.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

10554_2019_1538_MOESM1_ESM.docx (16 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 16 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of RadiologyPLA General HospitalBeijingChina
  2. 2.Department of Biomedical Engineering, Center for Biomedical Imaging ResearchTsinghua University School of MedicineBeijingChina
  3. 3.Department of Radiology, Pingjin HospitalLogistics University of Chinese People’s Armed Police ForcesTianjinChina
  4. 4.Department of RadiologyPeking University Third HospitalBeijingChina
  5. 5.Department of RadiologyChinese PLA Bethune International Peace HospitalShijiazhuangChina

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