Background and aims: The prevalence of the metabolic syndrome increases with age, although only few data are available about its prevalence in the general elderly population. This study describes the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome in an elderly population, and its association with cardiovascular diseases.
Methods: The Progetto Veneto Anziani (Pro.V.A.) is an observational study of 3,099 subjects aged 65 and older, randomly selected from the general population of Northern Italy. Cardiovascular diseases and metabolic syndrome according to Adult Treatment Panel III were evaluated in 2,910 subjects.
Results: The metabolic syndrome was present in 25.6% of men and 48.1% of women. Its prevalence was mainly due to high blood pressure (93%) in both sexes, and to abdominal obesity in 73% of women. The prevalence of cardiovascular diseases was significantly higher among subjects with metabolic syndrome. Together with age and former smoking habits, the metabolic syndrome was significantly associated with cardiovascular diseases. High blood pressure and low HDL were independently associated with cardiovascular diseases in men, and with high fasting plasma glucose and waist circumference in women.
Conclusions: The metabolic syndrome is frequent, and significantly but not independently associated with prevalent cardiovascular diseases in the elderly. In old people, rather than the metabolic syndrome per se, some of its components are independently associated with cardiovascular diseases.