By Nancy Shute
African-American women can be at risk of heart disease even if they don’t have metabolic syndrome, a study finds.
That’s a problem, because the current thinking is that metabolic syndrome — defined as high triglycerides, bad cholesterol, abdominal fat, high blood pressure and impaired glucose metabolism — is the big risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.
The picture with women appears to be a lot more complicated, especially when you compare women in different racial or ethnic groups.
This study, published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Heart Association, found that having just having two metabolic abnormalities raised heart disease risk in African-American women. Being overweight or obese with two or three metabolic factors almost doubled their heart disease risk.
That wasn’t true for white women. For them, being overweight or obese didn’t boost their risk unless they had full-on metabolic syndrome, too.
“The metabolic health concept has has only been investigated in the white population,” says Dr. Michelle Schmiegelow of Copenhagen University Hospital Gentofte in Denmark. She led the research while at Stanford University. “We found that it cannot be directly applied to black individuals.”