Although the metabolic syndrome can predict cardiovascular events in middle-aged individuals, data on its association with the progression of subclinical atherosclerosis, particularly in elderly women, are limited. We investigated the association of the metabolic syndrome with the progression of carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) in elderly women.
We performed a 12-year follow-up study in a population-based sample of 101 women (age range at baseline, 60-70 years). All study variables were measured at baseline and 12 years later. We used the National Cholesterol Education Program definition for metabolic syndrome (≥3 of 5 risk factors) and quantified carotid IMT noninvasively by ultrasonography.
The prevalence of metabolic syndrome increased from 13% at baseline to 46% after 12 years of follow-up (P<.001). The mean ± SD IMT increased by 21% (from 1.05 ± 0.31 mm to 1.27 ± 0.38 mm) during 12 years (P<.001). Among the individuals without metabolic syndrome at baseline, the increase in carotid IMT was greater in 34 women who developed metabolic syndrome during 12 years (0.31 ± 0.37 mm) than in 54 women who did not (0.16 ± 0.25 mm) after adjustment for age, prevalent cardiovascular diseases, physical activity, smoking, alcohol intake, serum low-density lipoprotein cholesterol level, use of cholesterol-lowering medication, carotid IMT, and National Cholesterol Education Program metabolic risk score at baseline (P = .04 for difference).
Incident metabolic syndrome is associated with accelerated progression of carotid IMT in elderly women.