Objectives: To describe carotid plaque composition by computed tomography angiography (CTA) in asymptomatic subjects and to compare this to carotid plaque assessment by ultrasound, coronary plaques by coronary CTA, and inflammatory biomarkers in plasma. Methods: Middle-aged asymptomatic men, n = 43, without known cardiovascular disease and diabetes were included. Plaques in coronary and carotid arteries were evaluated using CTA. Total plaque volumes and plaque composition were assessed by a validated plaque analysis software. The 60% centile cut point was used to divide the population into low or high carotid total plaque volumes. The occurrence of carotid plaques and intima-media thickness (IMT) was estimated by ultrasound. Results: Carotid plaque by ultrasound was undiagnosed in 13 of 28 participants (46%) compared to CTA. Participants having carotid plaques by ultrasound had significantly higher absolute volumes of all CTA-defined carotid plaque subtypes and a higher fraction of calcified plaque. A high carotid total plaque volume was independently associated with age (adjusted odds ratio (OR) 1.41 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.14–1.74], p = 0.001), IMT (adjusted OR 2.26 [95% CI 1.10–4.65], p = 0.03), and D-dimer (adjusted OR 8.86 [95% CI 1.26–62.37], p = 0.03). All coronary plaque features were significantly higher in participants with a high carotid total plaque volume. Conclusion: The occurrence of carotid plaques in asymptomatic individuals is underestimated by ultrasound compared to plaque assessment by CTA. Carotid plaque composition by CTA is different in individuals with and without carotid plaques by ultrasound. Key Points: • The occurrence of carotid plaques by ultrasound was underestimated in 46% of participants who had plaques by carotid CTA. • Participants with carotid plaques by ultrasound had higher volumes of all plaque subtypes and a higher calcified plaque component as determined by carotid CTA compared to participants without carotid plaques by ultrasound. • A high carotid total plaque volume was independently associated with age, intima-media thickness, and D-dimer.
- Carotid arteries
- Computed tomography angiography