Relationships between components of metabolic syndrome and coronary intravascular ultrasound atherosclerosis measures in women without obstructive coronary artery disease: the NHLBI-Sponsored Women's Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation Study

Cardiovasc Endocrinol. 2015 Jun;4(2):45-52. doi: 10.1097/XCE.0000000000000049.


Objective: In women, metabolic syndrome (MetS) is associated with higher risk of ischemic heart disease-related adverse outcomes versus individual components. We examined the relationship of MetS to subclinical coronary atherosclerosis.

Methods: Women (n = 100) undergoing coronary angiography for suspected ischemia but without obstructive coronary artery disease (CAD) underwent intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) of a segment of the left coronary artery. A core lab, masked to other findings, assessed IVUS measures and normalized volume measures to pull-back length. MetS [defined using ATPIII criteria (fasting glucose ≥ 100 mg/dl per revised NCEP guideline)] and its components were entered into multiple regression models to assess associations with IVUS measures.

Results: Detailed IVUS measurements were available in 87 women. Mean age was 54 ± 10 years, 36% had MetS, and 78% had atheroma. Comparing women with MetS versus without MetS, significant differences were observed for seven IVUS atherosclerosis measures, but were not significant after adjusting for the MetS components. Systolic blood pressure and waist circumference components remained independently positively associated with the IVUS measures after adjusting for age, diabetes, CAD family history, dyslipidemia, smoking, and hormone replacement.

Conclusion: In women with signs and symptoms of ischemia and no obstructive CAD, MetS is associated with coronary atherosclerosis presence and severity. However, these associations appear largely driven by components of waist circumference and systolic blood pressure versus MetS cluster. This supports the concept that MetS is a convenient clustering of risk factors rather than an independent risk predictor, and emphasizes that the critical factors for coronary atherosclerosis are potentially modifiable.

Keywords: adverse outcomes; coronary angiography; coronary artery disease; coronary atherosclerosis; intravascular ultrasound; ischemic heart disease; metabolic syndrome; risk assessment; women.