Introduction: The aim of our study was to evaluate, in patients with proven coronary artery disease (CAD) and treated with elective percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), whether the coexistence of asymptomatic carotid and femoral atherosclerotic lesions would provide prognostic information in terms of occurrence of restenosis.
Methods: We studied 104 patients with CAD (M/F=77/27), mean age 60.5±9 years. All patients were treated with elective PCI. After PCI the suspicion of restenosis was confirmed by coronary angiography. All patients underwent ultrasound duplex scan of carotid and femoral–popliteal–tibial axis to detect atherosclerotic lesions. According to ultrasound results, patients were classified as normal, with increased intima-media thickness (IMT) or with asymptomatic plaque (AP). If carotid and femoral lesions coexisted (together with coronary ones) patients were considered to have multifocal atherosclerosis.
Results: About 90% of the patients had carotid lesions: 40% had carotid IMT and 50% AP. Femoral lesions were found in 72% of the population and in 41% there was an increased IMT and in 21% an increased AP. Prevalence of restenosis after PCI was 12.5%. Patients with restenosis had a significantly higher prevalence of asymptomatic carotid and/or femoral lesions than those without restenosis. The occurrence of restenosis was independently associated with the detection of carotid, femoral and multifocal atherosclerosis.
Conclusion: The detection of carotid and/or peripheral atherosclerotic lesions in patients with CAD who underwent PCI may be a marker of increased risk. We believe that investigating these areas, by echo-Doppler duplex scanning, may be a cost-effective strategy in the work-up before elective PCI. It may allow identification of high-risk subgroups of patients, and enable the planning of patient-tailored therapeutic strategies and follow-up.