Low HDL-Cholesterol with Normal Triglyceride Levels is the Most Common Lipid Pattern in West Africans and African Americans with Metabolic Syndrome: Implications for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention

CVD Prev Control. 2010 Sep 1;5(3):75-80. doi: 10.1016/j.cvdpc.2010.07.003.


BACKGROUND: Although designed to predict cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes mellitus, the Metabolic Syndrome (MetSyn) under-predicts these conditions in African-Americans (AA). Failure of MetSyn in AA is often attributed to their relative absence of hypertriglyceridemia. It is unknown if the African experience with MetSyn will be similar or different to that in AA. Focusing on the lipid profile, our goal was to determine in West Africans (WA) and AA the pattern of variables that leads to the diagnosis of the MetSyn. METHODS: Cross-sectional analysis of 1296 subjects (364 WA, 44% male, 932 AA, 46% male). WA were from urban centers in Nigeria and Ghana and enrolled in the Africa America Diabetes Mellitus Study. AA lived in Washington, DC and participated in the Howard University Family Study. RESULTS: The prevalence of MetSyn was different in WA women and men: 42% vs.19%, P<0.001, and in AA women and men: 25% vs.17%, P<0.01. The three variables that most often led to the diagnosis of MetSyn in WA and AA were: low HDL-C, central obesity and hypertension. Less than 40% of AA and less than 25% of WA with the MetSyn had hypertriglyceridemia. CONCLUSIONS: Elevated triglyceride levels were uncommon in both WA and AA with MetSyn. As the relative absence of hypertriglyceridemia is associated with a lack of efficacy of MetSyn in AA, caution is warranted in diagnosing MetSyn in WA, the ancestral population of AA. Prospective studies are necessary to determine if an ethnic-specific reformulation of the MetSyn scoring system for lipids might optimize risk identification in black populations.