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Objective: To investigate waist circumference (WC), waist-hip ratio, hip circumference and body mass index (BMI) as risk factors for cardiovascular disease in Aboriginal Australians.

Methods: This cohort study included 836 adults aged 20-74 y in a remote Aboriginal community. WC, waist-hip ratio, hip circumference and BMI were obtained from a screening program. The participants were followed for up to 10 y for cardiovascular events. A Cox regression model was used to calculate the rate ratio (RR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) for the first-ever cardiovascular event (fatal and nonfatal).

Results: RRs for the first-ever cardiovascular event were 1.31 (95% CI: 1.11, 1.54), 1.29 (95% CI: 1.09,1.53), 1.28 (95% CI: 1.08, 1.52) and 1.10 (95% CI: 0.93, 1.30) per standard deviation increase in WC, BMI, hip circumference and waist-hip ratio, respectively, after adjustment for diabetes mellitus, total cholesterol, systolic blood pressure and smoking status. WC, BMI and hip circumference were significantly associated with cardiovascular risk, independent of other cardiovascular risk factors. Dividing each of the four parameters into quartiles, WC had the highest likelihood statistics (12.76) followed by BMI (11.45), hip circumference (10.57) and waist-hip ratio (3.15) for predicting first CV events.

Conclusion: WC, BMI and hip circumference are associated with cardiovascular outcome, independent of traditional risk factors. However, WC appears to be a better predictor for cardiovascular risk than other parameters. Waist-hip ratio is not as useful as other measurements.

Sponsorship: This research was funded by the National Health & Medical Research Council of Australia (193316).

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