Sex differences in patients with asymptomatic carotid atherosclerotic plaque: In vivo 3.0-T magnetic resonance study

Hideki Ota, Mathew J. Reeves, David C. Zhu, Arshad Majid, Alonso Collar, Chun Yuan, J. Kevin Demarco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


Background and Purpose-: Stroke prevention with carotid endarterectomy in asymptomatic men with carotid stenosis is greater than in women. Men have a higher incidence of stroke <75 years of age. Sex differences in plaque characteristics may help explain this, because several plaque features, including a thin/ruptured fibrous cap, larger lipid-rich/necrotic core, and hemorrhage, are associated with increased risk of stroke. We hypothesize that MRI carotid plaque features will demonstrate sex differences indicative of higher-risk plaque in men. Methods-: One hundred thirty-one patients (men, 67; women, 64) with ≥50% asymptomatic carotid stenosis on duplex ultrasound were included. Two blinded reviewers interpreted multicontrast MRI. Presence of a thin/ruptured fibrous cap, plaque components (lipid-rich/necrotic core, hemorrhage, and calcification), and percent component volume were documented. The associations between sex and individual plaque characteristics were examined using logistic and linear regression models (2-part models) controlling for demographic characteristics and MR angiographic findings. Results-: Presence of a thin/ruptured fibrous cap (48% versus 17%, adjusted OR=4.41, P<0.01) and lipid-rich/necrotic core (73% versus 50%, adjusted OR=3.66, P=0.01) were more common in men. There was a trend for more highly prevalent hemorrhage (33% versus, 17%, adjusted OR=2.15, P=0.07) in men. Calcification was not significantly associated with sex. Men demonstrated larger volumes of percent lipid-rich/necrotic core (median, 7.7% versus 3.2%, P=0.01), and percent hemorrhage (median, 6.1% versus 1.5%, P<0.01). Conclusion-: In patients with asymptomatic ≥50% carotid stenosis by duplex ultrasound, men had higher-risk plaque features compared with women after controlling for potential confounders. These findings may help explain sex differences in stroke incidence and prevention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1630-1635
Number of pages6
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Aug


  • atherosclerosis
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • sex


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