Background: There has been recent interest in the importance of visceral fat (VF) for the development of atherosclerosis. The purpose of this study was to examine associations between VF and multiple risk factors as well as the prevalence of carotid atherosclerosis in chronic haemodialysis patients.
Methods: We classified 77 non-diabetic haemodialysis patients into 'low VF', 'middle VF' and 'high VF' groups after determining VF area using computed tomography. Systemic atherosclerosis was assessed from intima-media thickness (IMT), plaque score (PS) and stiffness parameter beta (stiffness-beta) measured by high-resolution B-mode ultrasonography.
Results: Compared with the low VF group, the high VF group exhibited (i) significantly higher fasting plasma insulin (11.0 +/- 6.8 vs 7.1 +/- 2.9 micro U/ml, P = 0.0061); (ii) significantly higher plasma triglycerides (141.8 +/- 94.0 vs 86.5 +/- 32.5 mg/dl, P = 0.0032); and (iii) significantly lower plasma high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (42.1 +/- 14.5 vs 53.0 +/- 15.7mg/dl, P = 0.0134). Moreover, the high VF group had a higher prevalence and extent of carotid atherosclerosis: IMT was 0.69 +/- 0.13 vs 0.61 +/- 0.12 mm (P = 0.0239), PS was 4.8 +/- 3.2 vs 2.4 +/- 3.6 (P = 0.0236) and stiffness-beta was 11.4 +/- 3.1 vs 8.5 +/- 3.0 (P = 0.0082) in the high and low VF groups, respectively.
Conclusion: We show that VF is associated with the prevalence of carotid atherosclerosis as well as with hyperinsulinaemia and lipid abnormalities in chronic haemodialysis patients.