Metabolic syndrome may be an important link to stroke

SAN DIEGO, Feb. 6 Metabolic syndrome the simultaneous occurrence of multiple cardiovascular risk factors may almost double the risk of stroke, researchers reported today at the American Stroke Association's 29th International Stroke Conference.

The findings suggest that treating the risk-factor components of metabolic syndrome might reduce stroke risk before the onset of Type 2 diabetes.

"Before it becomes necessary to begin aggressive treatment of diabetes and other predisposing factors for stroke, it might be possible to take steps that can prevent these serious conditions from developing," said the study's lead author, Robert M. Najarian, a third-year medical student at Boston University School of Medicine.

The U.S. National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) and the World Health Organization define the metabolic syndrome as the simultaneous presence of at least three of five metabolic abnormalities: abdominal obesity, high fasting levels of blood sugar, high triglycerides levels, low levels of HDL ("good" cholesterol) and high blood pressure.

This study found that compared to people without metabolic syndrome, men with the condition have a 78 percent greater risk of stroke, and women affected by the condition have more than double the stroke risk of women who do not have the syndrome. But, the overall stroke risk associated with metabolic syndrome remained below that of people with diabetes.

Metabolic syndrome greatly increases a person's chances of developing Type 2 diabetes. Because of its strong association with diabetes, metabolic syndrome often is considered a prediabetic condition. Both conditions increase the risk of coronary heart disease, and diabetes is a potent risk factor for stroke. However, the relative effect of metabolic syndrome and diabetes on stroke risk has not been studied extensively.

Najarian and his co-investigators compared the impact of metabolic syndrome and diabetes on the 10-year risk o

Contact: Carole Bullock
American Heart Association

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