Metabolic syndrome increases cardiovascular risk. Limited information on its prevalence in Latin America is available. The Cardiovascular Risk Factor Multiple Evaluation in Latin America (CARMELA) study included assessment of metabolic syndrome in 7 urban Latin American populations.
CARMELA was a cross-sectional, population-based, observational study conducted in Barquisimeto, Venezuela; Bogota, Colombia; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Lima, Peru; Mexico City, Mexico; Quito, Ecuador; and Santiago, Chile. The prevalence of metabolic syndrome, defined according to the National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III (NCEP ATP III), and associated carotid atherosclerosis were investigated in 11,502 participants aged 25 to 64 years.
Across CARMELA cities, metabolic syndrome was most prevalent in Mexico City (27%) and Barquisimeto (26%), followed by Santiago (21%), Bogota (20%), Lima (18%), Buenos Aires (17%), and Quito (14%). In nondiabetic participants, prevalence was slightly lower but followed a comparable ranking. Overall, 59%, 59%, and 73% of women with high triglycerides, hypertension, or glucose abnormalities, respectively, and 64%, 48% and 71% of men with abdominal obesity, hypertension, or glucose abnormalities, respectively, had the full metabolic syndrome. Prevalence of metabolic syndrome increased with age, markedly so in women. Mean common carotid artery intima-media thickness (CCAIMT) and prevalence of carotid plaque increased steeply with increasing numbers of metabolic syndrome components; mean CCAIMT was higher and plaque more prevalent in participants with metabolic syndrome than without.
The prevalence of metabolic syndrome and its components by NCEP ATP III criteria was substantial across cities, ranging from 14% to 27%. CARMELA findings, including evidence of the association of metabolic syndrome and carotid atherosclerosis, should inform appropriate clinical and public health interventions.