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Cardiovascular Disease and Metabolic Syndrome (Syndrome X)


Metabolic Syndrome and Cardiovascular DiseaseMetabolic Syndrome symptoms significantly increase the chances of developing Cardiovascular Disease, which, if neglected, can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

Having three or more symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome raises the risk of coronary death, according to a recent study in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association (1). Even one or two symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome increases the danger of dying from Cardiovascular Disease.

Also known as Syndrome X, Metabolic Syndrome is characterized by a group of risk factors for damage to the cardiovascular system. They include excessive fat tissue in and around the abdomen, blood-fat disorders, the imbalance of blood glucose and insulin called Insulin Resistance and hypertension (high blood pressure). An underlying cause of Metabolic Syndrome can be Insulin Resistance-related obesity caused by poor diet and lack of regular exercise.

Researchers compared the risk of death among men and women with a cluster of abnormalities symptomatic of Metabolic Syndrome to the risk faced by patients with existing Cardiovascular Disease and Pre- and Type 2 Diabetes and people without Metabolic Syndrome, Cardiovascular Disease or Diabetes.

"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," said Nathan D. Wong, professor and director of the Heart Disease Prevention Program, Division of Cardiology at the University of California.

Researchers reviewed data from 6,255 patients who participated in the second National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES 2) from 1976 through 1980 and whose causes of death were documented. They ranged in age from 30-75 and 54% were women.

In this study, a person was diagnosed with Metabolic Syndrome if three or more of these characteristics were found:
  • A BMI (Body Mass Index) of 30 kg/m² or greater, which is classed as obesity

  • HDL "good" cholesterol less than 40 mg/dL if male or less than 50 mg/dL if female

  • Triglycerides greater than or equal to 150 mg/dL if fasting or greater than or equal to 400 mg/dL if not fasting

  • Blood pressure greater than or equal to 130/85 mmHg or if the patient was on anti-hypertension (high blood pressure) medication

  • Glucose greater than or equal to 110 mg/dL if fasting or two-hour post-load glucose greater than or equal to 140 mg/dL
Overall, 26% of participants had Metabolic Syndrome and 19.8% had pre-existing Cardiovascular Disease, meaning they reported that a physician had diagnosed them as having coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke or other cardiac disease. The remaining 54% did not have Metabolic Syndrome, Pre- or Type 2 Diabetes or Cardiovascular Disease.

Metabolic Syndrome and Cardiovascular DiseaseCompared to people with no Metabolic Syndrome factors, the risk of death from coronary heart disease or forms of Cardiovascular Disease was twice as high for those with one to two symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome and 3.5 times higher for people with full-blown Metabolic Syndrome (three or more symptoms).

And in contrast to those participants with neither Metabolic Syndrome, Pre- or Type 2 Diabetes nor Cardiovascular Disease, patients with Metabolic Syndrome but no Diabetes had a 65% greater risk of death from coronary heart disease. Those with Diabetes had a 2.9 times greater risk. Risk of death for those with pre-existing Cardiovascular Disease alone were 4.2 times higher and for participants with combined Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease the figure was 6.5 times higher.

"The study emphasizes the importance of close risk-factor monitoring and management, particularly blood pressure and dyslipidemia (abnormal levels of blood fats), which are common in those with Metabolic Syndrome," said Dr. Wong.

He added that the findings showing the highest death risk among those with both Diabetes and pre-existing Cardiovascular Disease support the recently released revision of the National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III guidelines for lipid management. The guidelines have placed these people in the "very high risk" category, warranting aggressive risk-factor intervention.

"We recommend physicians provide adequate resources for their patients with Metabolic Syndrome to improve compliance to diet and exercise regimens," added Dr Wong. "Many physicians who may not have the time to counsel a patient for an hour on diet or exercise do not refer to a registered dietitian or exercise specialist when they should."

"More attention to the medical management of elevated risk factors is essential to prevent Metabolic Syndrome, Diabetes and their complications, " he added.

Insulin Resistance-linked obesity is an underlying cause of Metabolic Syndrome. Insulin is produced in the pancreas and released into the circulatory system where it is crucial to the absorption of glucose by the body's cells. If the cells resist insulin, then both insulin and glucose build up in your blood. Excess insulin leads to weight gain and high blood pressure — both precursors to Metabolic Syndrome and Cardiovascular Disease.

As insulin comes in contact with the interior wall of the arteries, it damages the tissue, causing the initial injury that produces plaque. Therefore, having Insulin Resistance and Metabolic Syndrome directly cause changes in the blood lipids and overall cardiovascular health that contribute to the formation of heart disease.

Metabolic Syndrome and Cardiovascular DiseaseRecommendations for reducing the risk of damage to the cardiovascular system are the same as those for reducing Insulin Resistance, namely decreasing insulin, balancing cholesterol and lowering blood pressure. Action centers around managing Metabolic Syndrome to minimize the harmful effect of current symptoms and prevent or at least delay the worsening of underlying conditions that can lead to heart disease. This can be done through careful food choices, including a balanced, nutritious diet, exercise and weight loss in overweight individuals.

But there is no one "magic" pill to reverse Metabolic Syndrome. To address all the symptoms, we feel a complete system is required which includes nutraceuticals (vitamins, herbs and minerals that are disease specific), a realistic exercise program combined with nutritional guidance, guidance on carbobohydrate addiction awareness  and a support network that will help you change unhealthy lifestyle choices.

Click here to read about the unique, new Insulite MetaX System, which is scientifically-designed to help reduce risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure (hypertension) by balancing glucose and insulin levels. Among the Insulite MetaX System formulations is one called InsulX that includes alpha lipoic acid, which increases insulin insensitivity and lowers glucose levels.

You may be interested in some of our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Metabolic Syndrome and the Insulite MetaX System.

(1) Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, 8.23.04


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A. MAUREEN ROUHI, Chemical and Engineering News. November 22, 2004.Vol. 82, No.47  
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"A non-pharmacologic treatment for these patients is needed, since drugs prescribed to lower blood pressure have been shown to actually worsen carbohydrate and lipid metabolism in Syndrome X patients, negating the beneficial effects of those drugs."
Duke University Study, results published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, September 2003.
Article by Dr. Sheri Colberg, Phd, FACSM
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"...approximately 90% of overweight Hispanic children with a family history for type 2 diabetes have at least one feature of the metabolic syndrome and 30% possess the metabolic syndrome.

Our results support the view that improving insulin resistance may be crucial in the prevention of both type 2 diabetes and premature cardiovascular disease in this at-risk subpopulation of Hispanic youth."
Cruz ML, Weigensberg MJ, Huang TT, Ball G, Shaibi GQ, Goran MI.,J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2004 Jan;89(1):108-13.
"To gain the most benefit from modifying multiple metabolic risk factors, the underlying insulin-resistant state must become a target of therapy."
Bogdanovic, Streten and Langlans, Beata, "Metabolic Syndrome: New Opportunities in Diagnostics and Therapeutics", DMD Publications, 2004.  
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