Background and purpose: Metabolic syndrome has been associated with increased carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) and cardiovascular disease (CVD). The objective of this study was to examine metabolic syndrome as a determinant of CIMT in men and women and to compare the Framingham risk score (FRS) and metabolic syndrome as risk factors for increased carotid atherosclerosis.
Methods: The study population consisted of 1353 Finnish men and women aged 45 years and above who participated in Finnish population-based Health 2000 Survey. CIMT was used as a marker of subclinical atherosclerosis. The National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III criterion was used to define the presence of metabolic syndrome.
Results: In multivariable models, metabolic syndrome was an independent determinant of CIMT in both sexes (p</=0.001 for both). When metabolic syndrome was included in the regression models along with its components, it was an independent determinant of CIMT in women but not in men. After dividing the population into risk categories according to FRS and the presence of metabolic syndrome, FRS predominantly determined CIMT regardless of the presence of metabolic syndrome in men. In women, however, CIMT was significantly higher in subjects with metabolic syndrome than in those without it, independently of the FRS.
Conclusions: Metabolic syndrome is an independent determinant of CIMT in both sexes. In women but not in men, metabolic syndrome is associated with CIMT independently of its components. Metabolic syndrome provides additional information on a person's risk for early atherosclerosis beyond FRS in women but not in men.