Subclinical atherosclerosis in young adults predicting cardiovascular disease: The Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study

Olli T. Raitakari, Costan G. Magnussen, Markus Juonala, Noora Kartiosuo, Katja Pahkala, Suvi Rovio, Juhani S. Koskinen, Juha Mykkänen, Tomi P. Laitinen, Mika Kähönen, Joel Nuotio, Jorma S.A. Viikari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Background and aims: Atherosclerosis is accompanied by pre-clinical vascular changes that can be detected using ultrasound imaging. We examined the value of such pre-clinical features in identifying young adults who are at risk of developing atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD). Methods: A total of 2641 individuals free of ASCVD were examined at the mean age of 32 years (range 24–45 years) for carotid artery intima-media thickness (IMT) and carotid plaques, carotid artery elasticity, and brachial artery flow-mediated endothelium-dependent vasodilation (FMD). The average follow-up time to event/censoring was 16 years (range 1–17 years). Results: Sixty-seven individuals developed ASCVD (incidence 2.5%). The lowest incidence (1.1%) was observed among those who were estimated of having low risk according to the SCORE2 risk algorithm (<2.5% 10-year risk) and who did not have plaque or high IMT (upper decile). The highest incidence (11.0%) was among those who were estimated of having a high risk (≥2.5% 10-year risk) and had positive ultrasound scan for carotid plaque and/or high IMT (upper decile). Carotid plaque and high IMT remained independently associated with higher risk in multivariate models. The distributions of carotid elasticity indices and brachial FMD did not differ between cases and non-cases. Conclusions: Screening for carotid plaque and high IMT in young adults may help identify individuals at high risk for future ASCVD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117515
Publication statusPublished - 2024
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Cohort studies
  • Epidemiology
  • Pre-clinical atherosclerosis
  • Risk factors
  • Risk prediction
  • Vascular ultrasound

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Internal Medicine


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