Exercise and weight loss reduces excess insulin and lowers blood pressure in Syndrome X

DURHAM, N.C. Exercising and losing weight can significantly reduce the overproduction of insulin and lower the blood pressure of patients with Syndrome X -- which is an array of metabolic abnormalities that leaves patients at a higher risk of coronary artery disease and stroke, researchers from Duke University Medical Center reported.

Syndrome X, also known as the "metabolic syndrome," is usually characterized by elevated levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, obesity and most importantly, insulin resistance, which is the inability of the body to effectively metabolize carbohydrates and sugars. The syndrome is often overlooked or underappreciated by clinicians, especially in patients with hypertension, where its prevalence is high, the researchers said.

Earlier this year it was reported that the prevalence of syndrome X is increasing in the US, with more than one out of five or 40 million -- adults having the syndrome. These new results underscore the importance of weight management and physical activity as an effective strategy for addressing this epidemic, the researchers added.

"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," said Lana Watkins, Ph.D., who led a study whose results were published today (Sept. 8, 2003) in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The Duke study was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

"Many clinicians are quick to reach for the prescription pad when faced with medical problems," said James Blumenthal, Ph.D., senior member of the Duke team. "However, when you have a complex medical syndrome where drugs to treat one area may be harmful in another, it is important to offer patients an effective treatment that is not reliant on drugs."

Specifically, the study found that overweight patient

Contact: Richard Merritt
Duke University Medical Center

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