Relationship between measures of central and general adiposity with aortic stiffness in the general population

Atherosclerosis. 2014 Aug;235(2):625-31. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2014.05.958. Epub 2014 Jun 9.


Objective: Increased aortic stiffness may be one of the mechanisms by which obesity increases cardiovascular risk independently of traditional risk factors. While body mass index (BMI) is generally used to define excess adiposity, several studies have suggested that measures of central obesity may be better predictors of cardiovascular risk. However, data comparing the association between several measures of central and general obesity with aortic stiffness in the general population are inconclusive.

Methods: In 1031 individuals (age 53 ± 13 years, 45% men) without manifest cardiovascular disease randomly selected from population, we tested the association between parameters of central obesity (waist circumference - WC, waist-to-hip-ratio - WHR, waist-to-height ratio - WHtR) and general obesity (BMI) with carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity (cfPWV).

Results: In univariate analysis, WC and WHtR were more strongly associated with cfPWV than BMI in both genders, while WHR showed a stronger association with cfPWV only in women. WHtR was more closely associated with cfPVW than WHR. This difference between obesity measures remained after multivariate adjustment. When the fully adjusted hierarchical regression was used, among central obesity measures, WHtR had the largest additive value on top of BMI, while there was no additive value of BMI on top of WHtR.

Conclusion: Central obesity parameters are more closely associated with aortic stiffness than BMI. Of central adiposity measures, WHtR has the strongest association with aortic stiffness beyond body mass index and cardiovascular risk factors. Our results suggest that WHtR may be the best anthropometric measure of excess adiposity in the general population.

Keywords: Aortic stiffness; Body mass index; Obesity; Pulse wave velocity; Waist circumference; Waist-to-height ratio; Waist-to-hip ratio.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aorta / physiopathology*
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Height
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Czech Republic / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity, Abdominal*
  • Pulse Wave Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Vascular Stiffness*
  • Waist Circumference
  • Waist-Hip Ratio