Carotid Intraplaque Hemorrhage Is Associated with Cardiovascular Risk Factors

Anthony S. Larson, Waleed Brinjikji, Luis E. Savastano, John Huston, John C. Benson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Intraplaque hemorrhage (IPH) is a known predictor of symptomatic cervical carotid artery disease. However, the association between IPH and modifiable cardiovascular risk factors, patient demographics, and pertinent laboratory values has not been extensively studied. Methods: A retrospective review was performed of consecutive patients who have undergone dedicated carotid plaque imaging over a 3-year period. Patients were excluded if the MR examination did not include high-resolution carotid plaque imaging. Intraplaque hyperintense signal on carotid plaque images was presumed to represent IPH. The presence or absence of IPH was compared to various demographic and clinical variables. Multivariable regression analysis was performed in order to determine an independent association between variables and IPH. Results: Of 643 included patients, 114 patients (17.7%) had IPH in one or both carotids, 529 patients (82.3%) did not; 39.5% of patients with IPH had coronary artery disease compared to 23.1% of patients without (p = 0.0003). Patients with IPH also had higher proportions of hypertension (77.2 vs. 60.7%, p = 0.009), hyperlipidemia (HLD; 89.5 vs. 62.4%, p < 0.0001), diabetes mellitus (29.0 vs. 18.7%, p = 0.01), and a history of tobacco smoking (63.2 vs. 52.6%, p = 0.003). Patients without IPH had, on average, higher high-density lipoprotein levels (46.1 vs. 56.7%, p = 0.003). Factors independently associated with IPH were advanced age (odds ratio [OR]: 1.1, 95% CI: [1.0-1.05], p <0.0001), male sex (OR: 2.5, 95% CI: [1.4-4.4], p = 0.0001), presence of carotid stenosis (OR: 8.4, 95% CI: [4.6-15.3], p < 0.0001), and HLD (OR: 2.6, 95% CI: [1.3-5.2], p = 0.009). Conclusions: IPH is associated with multiple cardiovascular risk factors, in particular advanced age, male sex, presence of carotid stenosis, and HLD. Such risk factors likely play a role in the development of IPH and may provide insight into the pathophysiology of unstable carotid plaques.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)355-360
Number of pages6
JournalCerebrovascular Diseases
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • Cardiovascular
  • Hemorrhage
  • Intraplaque hemorrhage
  • Plaque
  • Stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Carotid Intraplaque Hemorrhage Is Associated with Cardiovascular Risk Factors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this