Prevalence of and Risk Factors for Autopsy-Determined Atherosclerosis Among US Service Members, 2001-2011

Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, PMB, 4301 Jones Bridge Rd, Room A1040A, Bethesda, MD 20814, USA.
JAMA The Journal of the American Medical Association (Impact Factor: 35.29). 12/2012; 308(24):2577-83. DOI: 10.1001/jama.2012.70830
Source: PubMed


Autopsies of US service members killed in the Korean and Vietnam wars demonstrated that atherosclerotic changes in the coronary arteries can appear early in the second and third decades of life, long before ischemic heart disease becomes clinically apparent.
To estimate the current prevalence of coronary and aortic atherosclerosis in the US armed forces.
Cross-sectional study of all US service members who died of combat or unintentional injuries in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom/New Dawn between October 2001 and August 2011 and whose cardiovascular autopsy reports were available at the time of data collection in January 2012. Prevalence of atherosclerosis was analyzed by various demographic characteristics and medical history. Classifications of coronary atherosclerosis severity were determined prior to data analysis and designed to provide consistency with previous military studies: minimal (fatty streaking only), moderate (10%-49% luminal narrowing of ≥1 vessel), and severe (≥50% narrowing of ≥1 vessel).
Prevalence of coronary and aortic atherosclerosis in the US armed forces and by age, sex, self-reported race/ethnicity, education, occupation, service branch and component, military rank, body mass index at military entrance, and International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification, diagnoses of cardiovascular risk factors.
Of the 3832 service members included in the analysis, the mean age was 25.9 years (range, 18-59 years) and 98.3% were male. The prevalence of any coronary atherosclerosis was 8.5% (95% CI, 7.6%-9.4%); severe coronary atherosclerosis was present in 2.3% (95% CI, 1.8%-2.7%), moderate in 4.7% (95% CI, 4.0%-5.3%), and minimal in 1.5% (95% CI, 1.1%-1.9%). Service members with atherosclerosis were significantly older (mean [SD] age, 30.5 [8.1] years) than those without (mean [SD] age, 25.3 [5.6] years; P < .001). Comparing atherosclerosis prevalence among with those with no cardiovascular risk factor diagnoses (11.1% [95% CI, 10.1%-12.1%]), there was a greater prevalence among those with a diagnosis of dyslipidemia (50.0% [95% CI, 30.3%-69.7%]; age-adjusted prevalence ratio [PR], 2.09 [95% CI, 1.43-3.06]), hypertension (43.6% [95% CI, 27.3%-59.9%]; age-adjusted PR, 1.88 [95% CI, 1.34-2.65]), or obesity (22.3% [95% CI, 15.9%-28.7%]; age-adjusted PR, 1.47 [95% CI, 1.10-1.96]), but smoking (14.1% [95% CI, 8.0%-20.2%]) was not significantly associated with a higher prevalence of atherosclerosis (age-adjusted PR, 1.12 [95% CI, 0.73-1.74]).
Among deployed US service members who died of combat or unintentional injuries and received autopsies, the prevalence of atherosclerosis varied by age and cardiovascular risk factors.

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    • "Though prematurely speculative, this study with the context of prior evidence from developed countries provides interesting insights into the mechanisms of premature CVD in Indians. Autopsy studies from United States have shown that coronary atherosclerosis have markedly declined from 77% prevalence in 1950s to 8.5% in 2011, a period of sharp decline in premature CAD death and risk factor prevalence in United States [34], suggesting that the high CAD burden among middle aged adults in 1940s and 1950s in United States (as seen now in countries like India and China) was probably driven by “reservoir” of atherosclerosis in the young population, and the abundance of noxious risk factors [35]. Aging associated atherosclerosis can be considered as accelerated vascular aging probably influenced by additional pathological burden induced by various other noxious environments like smoking, dyslipidemia, and hypertension [16], and atherosclerosis occurring at younger age could be due to early accelerated aging of the vascular wall [4]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Die gefallenen Soldaten der US-amerikanischen Kriege in Korea, Vietnam und im Irak erweisen der Wissenschaft einen letzten Dienst.
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