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Clin Cardiol. 2009 May;32(5):269-73. doi: 10.1002/clc.20451.

Modestly overweight women have vascular endothelial dysfunction.

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Division of Cardiology, Tufts Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.



Vascular endothelial dysfunction occurs early in the atherosclerotic process and is predictive of cardiovascular prognosis. However, the association between specific cardiovascular risk factors and endothelial dysfunction in women has not been well characterized. This study examined the relationship between endothelial dysfunction and cardiovascular risk factors (body mass index [BMI] >or= 25 kg/m(2), current smoking, age, diabetes, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and family history of early coronary heart disease) in a population of women that included those already being treated for risk factors.


Endothelial function was assessed by brachial artery ultrasound flow-mediated vasodilation (FMD) in 185 consecutive women without a history of coronary heart disease. Women with hypertension, diabetes, or hyperlipidemia were allowed to continue on their usual therapy.


There was an inverse linear association between age and FMD. Subjects who were active smokers had lower FMD compared with nonsmokers, and subjects with BMI >or= 25 kg/m(2) had lower FMD than subjects with BMI < 25 kg/m(2). FMD in overweight women (BMI >or= 25 and < 30 kg/m(2)) was similar to that of obese women (BMI >or= 30 kg/m(2)). Multivariate analysis demonstrated that body mass index, current smoking, and age were independent predictors of endothelial dysfunction in this population.


Modestly elevated BMI, smoking, and age predict endothelial dysfunction in women, even in the presence of treatment for other atherosclerotic risk factors. These findings demonstrate the importance of modest elevation in BMI as a risk factor for impaired vascular health in women, and underscore the need for focusing further attention on lifestyle modification as a component of cardiovascular disease prevention.

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