Cigarette smoking is known as a major risk factor in the pathogenic mechanisms of stroke, coronary and peripheral artery disease (CAD and PAD), even in young subjects. The aim of this study is the creation of a four-step ultrasound examination to evaluate and monitor the peripheral, the extra and the intra-cranial assessment of the arterial early damage in smokers. The evaluations of A, the Ankle-brachial index, ABI, B, the Breath holding index, BHI, C, the Carotid intima media thickness, CIMT, and D, the Diameter of the abdominal aorta represent the "ABCD" assessment.
Thirty-eight healthy smokers and 43 controls underwent A, calculated for each leg. B was calculated after determination of subjects' flow velocity of middle cerebral artery (MCA) by trans-cranial colour Doppler (TCCD) before and after 30 s of apnoea at baseline and just after smoking a cigarette, to simulate the chronic and acute effects of smoking. Finally, C and D evaluation were assessed using a high-resolution B-mode ultrasound.
Smokers presented higher values of CIMT (mean and maximal), and lower BHI both at baseline and just after smoking (p < 0.01), though in the normal range. No significant differences were found for A and D between smokers and non- smokers.
Our results underline the importance of the assessment of B and C, that, though in the normal range, present significant differences between smokers and non-smokers. These data could drive the screening between smokers in age-related manner. Moreover, the "ABCD" examination could represent a valid method to detect and then monitor smokers' vascular damage. Although it is far to be considered a screening and routine tool, it should be contemplated in a wider context of possible not-invasive practical screening and follow-up modalities. This would be designed to implement preventive strategies and tools aimed at discouraging tobacco addiction and monitoring cardiovascular risk patients.