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15-07-2009 | Cardiometabolic | Article

Metabolic syndrome risk factors linked to early atherosclerosis


Free abstract

MedWire News: Conventional risk factors for the metabolic syndrome are associated with accelerated atherosclerosis in young adults, a Finnish study suggests.

Obesity, high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, and high insulin levels predicted the progression of carotid intima-media thickness (IMT), report Markus Juonala (Turku University) and colleagues.

They suggest that diagnosing the metabolic syndrome “may be helpful in identifying groups of individuals who have accelerated progression of carotid IMT indicative of atherosclerosis development.”

The study included 1809 young adults, with a mean age of 32 years, who were taking part in the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns study and had IMT of the common carotid artery assessed in 2001 and 2007, as well as conventional cardiovascular risk factors.

Baseline waist circumference, LDL cholesterol, and insulin were directly associated with IMT progression in a multivariable model adjusted for age, gender, and baseline IMT. The 6-year change in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol was also inversely associated with IMT progression.

When the European Group for the Study of Insulin Resistance definition for the metabolic syndrome was included in the model, it was directly associated with IMT progression, but its inclusion did not improve the model's predictive value.

IMT increased more among participants with this definition of the metabolic syndrome than in those not identified by it, with mean increases of 79 versus 42 µm, respectively.

Furthermore, the number of metabolic syndrome components was linearly associated with IMT progression.

Reporting in the journal Circulation, the researchers say: “Adverse lifestyle developments in childhood and young adulthood, such as the increasing prevalence of obesity and a sedentary lifestyle, are known to have a strong influence on all the components of the metabolic syndrome.

“As shown in our study, this becomes translated into accelerated atherosclerosis early in adult life.”

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a part of Springer Science+Business Media. © Current Medicine Group Ltd; 2009

By Anita Wilkinson