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Increasing Waist-to-Hip Ratio Linked to Atherosclerosis

It may be a better indicator of coronary artery calcification than other obesity measures

TUESDAY, Aug. 14 (HealthDay News) -- An increasing waist-to-hip ratio is independently associated with atherosclerosis and may be a better indicator of coronary artery calcification than either waist circumference or body mass index, according to study findings published in the Aug. 21 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

James A. de Lemos, M.D., of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, and colleagues studied 2,744 adults (median age 45) who underwent electron-beam computed tomography.

Across the quintiles of waist-to-hip ratio and waist circumference, the researchers found that coronary artery calcification prevalence increased stepwise. But across the quintiles of body mass index, they found significant differences in prevalence only between the first and fifth quintiles. After adjusting for standard cardiovascular risk factors, they found that waist-to-hip ratio -- but not waist circumference or body mass index -- was independently associated with an increased risk of coronary artery calcification in the fifth versus the first quintiles (odds ratio, 1.91).

"The associations between obesity measurements and atherosclerosis mirror those observed between obesity and cardiovascular mortality, suggesting that obesity contributes to cardiovascular mortality via increased atherosclerotic burden," the authors conclude.

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