Waist-to-Hip Ratio May Beat BMI, Waistline as CVD Predictor in Postmenopausal Women

By Reuters Staff

February 04, 2015

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) may be a better predictor of subclinical atherosclerosis in postmenopausal women than both body mass index and waist circumference, according to new research from Korea.

The researchers compared the three measures as potential cardiovascular disease (CVD) predictors according to menopause status in a study involving 442 apparently healthy women.

"In postmenopausal women, BMI showed no significant correlation with any indicator of subclinical atherosclerosis. Furthermore, WHR was superior to WC for predicting carotid atherosclerosis in postmenopausal women," Dr. Hyun Jung Lee of Korea University College of Medicine in Seoul and colleagues write in Maturitas, online January 12.

The researchers enrolled 209 premenopausal women and 233 postmenopausal women in their study between April 2012 and May 2013. They excluded women with a history of CVD, a malignancy or inflammatory conditions, as well as those who were taking anti-inflammatory medicines or hormone replacement therapy.

They evaluated potential subclinical atherosclerosis according to carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT), measured by ultrasound, and brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity (baPWV), calculated as the mean of the left and right baPWV values.

At baseline, the premenopausal and postmenopausal had significantly different characteristics (all p<0.001). Premenopausal women had a mean age of 41, a mean BMI of 21.8, mean WC of 71 cm, and a mean WHR of 0.8. The postmenopausal women had a mean age of 57, a mean BMI of 23, and a mean WHR of 0.9.

Premenopausal women had a mean baPWV of 11.5 m/s and a mean CIMT of 0.6 mm, compared with 13.4 m/s and 0.7 mm, respectively, for postmenopausal women (both p<0.001).

The researchers found that all anthropometric parameters positively correlated with baPWV and CIMT values in premenopausal women; in postmenopausal women only WHR correlated positively with baPWV values, and WC and WHR correlated positively with CIMT.

They also found that the number of women with carotid atherosclerosis, defined as CIMT >0.9 mm, came to nine for premenopausal women and 67 for postmenopausal women.

"The present study showed for the first time that WHR was more closely correlated with indicators of subclinical atherosclerosis such as baPWV and CIMT than WC and BMI in postmenopausal women," the researchers write.

"After menopause, adipose distribution shifts from gluteofemoral subcutaneous adipose tissue to abdominal visceral adipose tissue," they offer as a possible explanation.

They conclude, "The present study showed that WHR, an indicator that reflects abdominal obesity and body fat distribution simultaneously, has a superior predictive value for subclinical atherosclerosis compared to BMI or WC in postmenopausal women."

The research was funded by the National Research Foundation of Korea. The authors report no disclosures.

SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1DeP7vW

Maturitas 2015.

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