The metabolic syndrome is associated with increased vascular disease risk. We evaluated two carotid ultrasound measurements, namely intima media thickness and total plaque volume, in a Canadian Oji-Cree population with a high metabolic syndrome prevalence rate.
As part of the Sandy Lake Complications Prevalence and Risk Factor Study, 166 Oji-Cree subjects (baseline metabolic syndrome prevalence, 44.0%, according to the National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III guidelines) were examined using a high-resolution duplex ultrasound scanner.
Image analysis showed that mean intima media thickness was elevated in subjects with the metabolic syndrome (818 +/- 18 vs 746 +/- 20 microm), as was total plaque volume (125 +/- 26 vs 77.3 +/- 17.0 mm3). However, after adjustment for age and sex, the differences were significant only for intima media thickness (P = 0.039). Furthermore, a significant trend towards increased intima media thickness was observed with increasing numbers of metabolic syndrome components: mean intima media thickness was highest among individuals with all five metabolic syndrome components compared to those with none (866 +/- 55 vs 619 +/- 23 microm, P = 0.0014). A similar, but non-significant trend was observed for total plaque volume.
This is the first study of the relationship between the metabolic syndrome and two distinct carotid ultrasound traits measured in the same individuals. The results suggest that standard intima media thickness measurement shows a more consistent and stronger association with the metabolic syndrome than does total plaque volume.