- Atherosclerosis is a hardening and narrowing of the arteries which develops slowly and gradually and can cause cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks and strokes.
- Atherosclerosis can be detected using a range of non-invasive imaging techniques even before any clinical symptoms occur (“subclinical atherosclerosis”).
- A technique commonly used in clinical practice is the ultrasound of the neck arteries, which allows assessment of carotid intima-media thickness (cIMT) and characterisation of any atherosclerotic plaque.
- Other techniques for detecting vessel wall pathology and dysfunction include flow-mediated dilatation, ankle-brachial index, and pulse-wave velocity.
Stages of endothelial dysfunction in atherosclerosis. From: Wikipedia. User: Grahams Child. CC BY-SA 3.0
Bringing world-wide data together
The Prospective Studies of Atherosclerosis (Proof-ATHERO) consortium has collected world-wide data of epidemiological studies with atherosclerosis data. This unique collection of data allows us to study the development of atherosclerosis over life, better understand the influence of risk factors on atherosclerosis, and investigate clinical consequences of atherosclerosis.
Strengths of Proof-ATHERO include:
- repeat assessments of different measures of atherosclerosis;
- adequate statistical power;
- detailed characterisation of study participants, including information on lifestyle, blood-based markers, and intake medication; and
- availability of clinical outcomes.
The Proof-ATHERO consortium harmonised data from 72 studies with a total of over 90,000 participants (updated: September 2018). This includes studies in the general population, studies in high-risk populations, and clinical trials. The map on the right shows the geographical location of study centres is provided on the right.
More detailed information on participating study centres can be found here.