Background: Atherosclerosis is a systemic disease. Many ischemic stroke patients may have concomitant coronary artery disease (CAD). Detection and treatment of preclinical CAD in stroke patients may improve long-term outcome and survival because CAD is a major cause of death during follow-up in stroke patients. However, association between coronary and cerebral artery atherosclerosis in stroke patients has not fully been investigated. This study aimed at examining the frequency and high-risk groups of CAD in ischemic stroke patients. Methods: Consecutive patients who were admitted due to acute ischemic stroke between July 2006 and June 2010 were prospectively enrolled in this study. A total of 1,304 patients who underwent MSCT coronary angiography and cerebral angiography were included in this study. By using 64-multislice computed tomography coronary angiography, we investigated the frequency of CAD and association between coronary and cerebral artery atherosclerosis in terms of location and burden (severity and extent) in stroke patients. We also sought to identify high-risk groups for CAD among stroke patients. Results: The frequency of significant (≧50%) CAD was 32.3% and the frequency of any degree of CAD was 70.1%. Diabetes mellitus, serum levels of total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglyceride, and significant stenosis of the extracranial carotid, intracranial vertebral and basilar arteries were independently associated with CAD. However, no association was found between CAD and significant stenosis of the anterior, middle and posterior cerebral arteries. The association between CAD and cerebral atherosclerosis was stronger with increased severity and extent of cerebral atherosclerosis. When compared to patients with <2 risk factors and without significant cerebral atherosclerosis, those with multiple (≧2) risk factors and atherosclerosis in both the carotid and the vertebrobasilar arteries had very high risks of CAD [odds ratio (OR) 8.36; 95% confidence interval (CI) 4.15–16.87]. The risk was also high in patients with multiple risk factors and atherosclerosis in either the carotid or the vertebrobasilar artery (OR 4.13; 95% CI 2.62–6.51), and in those with <2 risk factors but atherosclerosis in both the carotid and the vertebrobasilar arteries (OR 3.40; 95% CI 1.22–9.47). Conclusions: A substantial portion of stroke patients had preclinical CAD, and there was a clear relationship between coronary and cerebral artery atherosclerosis in terms of location and burden. The risk of CAD was particularly high in stroke patients with multiple risk factors and atherosclerosis of the carotid and/or vertebrobasilar arteries.
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