Abstract 2993: Lipid Content of the Carotid Plaque is Associated with Body Mass Index
Obesity is associated with higher cardiovascular/stroke risk and has been shown to increase carotid intima media thickness (IMT). We hypothesized that obesity can increase the lipid content of the carotid atherosclerotic plaque. Human carotid artery specimens (n=24) were obtained after resection from patients undergoing endarectomy and imaged ex vivo at high magnetic field (11.7 T) within 24 hours. MR images (T2W and diffusion weighted imaging, DWI) were acquired and then co-registered with histology for lipids (oil red O). Lipid core to vessel cross sectional area (CSA) ratio was measured (Figure⇓) from DW images, which are superior to T1W and T2W images for lipid identification ex vivo. Plaques were grouped by the calculated lipid/CSA ratio into large lipid core (>10%) and small lipid core (<10%) groups according to a published analysis. Association analyses between lipid content and cardiovascular risk factors (Table⇓) revealed that only obesity (body mass index, BMI) was significantly associated with lipid core size [BMI in large (32 ± 6.8) and small (26 ± 4.4) lipid core groups (p<0.05)]. Increased BMI was significantly associated with increased plaque lipid content. BMI is a simple measurement that may predict enrichment of lipids in carotid plaques, which could make these plaques more vulnerable to rupture.