Atherosclerosis and osteoporosis appear to be related, but prospective studies on the relationship are sparse. In order to examine whether carotid artery plaques with different morphology predict nonvertebral fractures, we followed 2,733 women, aged 55-74 years (75% of the eligible population in Tromsø, Norway), for 6 years. At baseline, plaque morphology in terms of ultrasound echogenicity was categorized into three groups, ranging from low echogenicity (echolucent plaques with a high content of soft tissue) to strong echogenicity (echogenic plaques with a high content of dense fibrous tissue and calcified material). We found that the age-adjusted relative risk (RR) of fracture was significantly higher among women with echogenic plaques than among women without plaques: 1.7 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.0-2.7). After adjustment for bone mineral density at baseline in addition to age, the RR was 1.6 (95% CI 1.0-2.6), and further adjustments for body mass index, body height, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, smoking status, and muscle strength did not influence the association. Subjects with other plaque types were not at an increased risk compared to subjects without plaques: RR ≤ 1.1, after multiple adjustments. We conclude that in the general population elderly women with echogenic carotid plaques are at higher risk of nonvertebral fractures than women without plaques.
- Carotid artery
- Plaque morphology
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine