The purpose of this study was to test whether carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) is already increased in normotensive subjects who progress to hypertension (confirmed prehypertensives) independently of known determinants of vessel wall thickness.
Common carotid artery (CCA) far-wall IMT was measured (B-mode ultrasound) in 1536 subjects from the population-based Mexico City Diabetes Study at baseline and 3.5 years later. In the 136 confirmed prehypertensives, CCA-IMT (720  microm, median[interquartile range]) was intermediate between normotensives (615  microm) and hypertensives (725  microm). After multiadjusting for gender, age, BMI, blood pressure, total cholesterol, antihypertensive therapy, and diabetes, converter status was independently associated with a higher CCA-IMT (+93+/-14 microm). At follow-up, CCA-IMT increased by 35  microm. Gender, age, blood pressure, and presence of diabetes, but not the converter status, were significant independent predictors of CCA-IMT progression. In a model adjusting for gender, age, blood pressure (level, status and treatment), diabetes status, total and HDL-cholesterol, the G variant of the 45T/G polymorphism of the adiponectin gene was associated with a hazard ratio of 1.45 (95% CI: 1.04 to 2.01) of a baseline CCA-IMT in the top quintile.
In confirmed prehypertensives, CCA-IMT is increased independently of blood pressure and known determinants of wall thickness, but short-term CCA-IMT progression is not accelerated.