Aims Carotid intima media thickness (CIMT) predicts cardiovascular (CVD) events, but the predictive value of CIMT change is debated. We assessed the relation between CIMT change and events in individuals at high cardiovascular risk. Methods and results From 31 cohorts with two CIMT scans (total n = 89070) on average 3.6 years apart and clinical follow-up, subcohorts were drawn: (A) individuals with at least 3 cardiovascular risk factors without previous CVD events, (B) individuals with carotid plaques without previous CVD events, and (C) individuals with previous CVD events. Cox regression models were fit to estimate the hazard ratio (HR) of the combined endpoint (myocardial infarction, stroke or vascular death) per standard deviation (SD) of CIMT change, adjusted for CVD risk factors. These HRs were pooled across studies. In groups A, B and C we observed 3483, 2845 and 1165 endpoint events, respectively. Average common CIMT was 0.79mm (SD 0.16mm), and annual common CIMT change was 0.01mm (SD 0.07mm), both in group A. The pooled HR per SD of annual common CIMT change (0.02 to 0.43mm) was 0.99 (95% confidence interval: 0.95–1.02) in group A, 0.98 (0.93–1.04) in group B, and 0.95 (0.89–1.04) in group C. The HR per SD of common CIMT (average of the first and the second CIMT scan, 0.09 to 0.75mm) was 1.15 (1.07–1.23) in group A, 1.13 (1.05–1.22) in group B, and 1.12 (1.05–1.20) in group C. Conclusions We confirm that common CIMT is associated with future CVD events in individuals at high risk. CIMT change does not relate to future event risk in high-risk individuals.
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