Metabolic Syndrome Hikes Heart Risk

Traits like belly fat, high blood pressure are part of the syndrome

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MONDAY, Aug. 23, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- People with at least three signs of what's known as metabolic syndrome are at increased risk of dying from coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease, according to a study in the Aug. 24 issue of Circulation.

Metabolic syndrome is characterized by unhealthy traits such as excessive belly fat, high cholesterol and other blood-fat disorders, insulin resistance and/or glucose intolerance, and either a high normal blood pressure or hypertension. The syndrome is usually linked to obesity, physical inactivity, and genetic factors.

Researchers examined data from 6,255 people who took part in the second U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1976 through 1980. Causes of death among this group were documented over 13 years.

The researchers compared the risk of death among people with multiple metabolic abnormalities to the risk of death among people with cardiovascular disease, people with diabetes, and people who didn't have metabolic syndrome, diabetes or cardiovascular disease.

Compared to those with no metabolic syndrome factors, the risk of death from coronary heart disease (CHD) was twice as high for people with one to two factors and three-and-a-half times greater for people with at least three factors -- the point where a person is defined as having metabolic syndrome.

There was a 65 percent greater risk of CHD death for people with at least three factors compared to people whow did not have metabolic syndrome, diabetes or cardiovascular disease, the study found.

"It is particularly interesting that patients with even one or two metabolic syndrome traits, or those with metabolic syndrome but without diabetes, were at increased risk for death from coronary heart disease and cardiovascular diseases," Nathan D. Wong, director of the Heart Disease Prevention Program at the University of California, Irvine, said in a prepared statement.

A study published last December in Circulation found that four traits associated with metabolic syndrome -- high blood pressure, insulin resistance, low "good" cholesterol, and high blood triglycerides -- were linked to increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

More information

The American Diabetes Association has more about metabolic syndrome.

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, Aug. 23, 2004

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