Background Low bone mineral density (BMD) has been associated with cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and markers of subclinical atherosclerosis, suggesting a shared pathophysiology.
Objectives The objective of this study was to evaluate the relationships between bone mineral density (BMD) and intima-media thickness (IMT) of the common carotid artery and carotid atherosclerotic plaque in a cohort of postmenopausal women.
Methods In this cross-sectional study were consecutively enrolled 184 postmenopausal women referred for osteoporosis screening by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scanning of the lumbar spine and hip. Mean common carotid IMT, as a marker of subclinical atherosclerosis, and the presence of atherosclerotic plaques were assessed by ultrasonography.
Results In patients with total hip osteoporosis, mean IMT was significantly higher than in patients with osteopenia or normal BMD (both p<0.05). There was no statistically significant difference in the mean values of IMT across the spine bone status (p=0.07). Sixty-three percent of patients with osteoporosis at the femoral neck had carotid artery plaque at one or more sites compared with 38% for women with normal BMD (p=0.04). There was no statistically significant trend in the proportion of atherosclerotic plaques across the spine and total hip bone status groups. A significant positive correlation was observed between mean IMT and BMD Z-score at the lumbar spine (rho =0.19, p=0.008). In regression analysis, femoral neck BMD, but not total hip or lumbar spine BMD, was negatively associated with mean carotid IMT (p=0.04).
Conclusions Low bone mass in postmenopausal women is associated with increased carotid IMT and atherosclerotic plaque. Our results provide further evidence for a link between BMD and the risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases.
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Disclosure of Interest None Declared