The prevalence of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of cardiovascular risk factors, has begun stabilizing among US adults. One third of all Americans, especially elderly ones, suffer from metabolic syndrome, which puts them at risk for a multitude of cardiovascular problems.
A recent study published in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) showed that since 2007-2008, the prevalence of metabolic syndrome has levelled off.
Metabolic Syndrome Prevalence Levelling Off
Study authors were, of course, displeased with the fact that a decrease in prevalence was not observed, despite some reassurance in the fact that it did not increase either.
Previous studies had estimated that approximately 35% of all US adults and 50% of all US adults aged over 60 suffered from the syndrome. It represents a combination of multiple risk factors such as abdominal obesity, high blood pressure and altered glucose response or type 2 diabetes. All of these factors increase the patient’s risk of cardiovascular illness and death.
The syndrome’s prevalence is also higher in two distinct groups: women over the age of 60 and Latinos in the same age group.
Study authors warn that the signs point towards an ever-increasing epidemic. Healthcare officials should, therefore, concentrate on public education and promoting lifestyle changes.
“Lower calorie, lower fat, more plant-based nutrition, and consistent moderate exercise,” Kim Williams Sr., American College of Cardiology President explains.
The increasing prevalence of metabolic syndrome also points towards an aging population. The healthcare system will experience increasing burdens if preventive actions are not pursued.
Dr. Robert Wong, lead author of the study, together with his collaborators, found a number of disparities in metabolic syndrome prevalence.
For one, Hispanics presented the highest disease prevalence. Non-Hispanic whites came in second, followed by African Americans. According to Wong, correctly understanding these prevalence and risk differences may offer important insight into contributing factors and possible treatment strategies.
Furthermore, knowing that specific ethnic groups are more prone to the condition, healthcare providers are now able to offer more aggressive treatment plans.
Having metabolic syndrome puts patients at a higher risk of developing a variety of health problems. Apart from cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome also raises a patient’s likelihood of developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease which in turn can lead to liver cancer.
Metabolic Syndrome Diagnosis
An accurate and timely diagnosis of metabolic syndrome can contribute to treatment optimization, Dr. Wong explains, while also improving other risk factors such as diabetes or hypertension.
Metabolic syndrome is defined as the simultaneous presence of at least three of the following components:
- A waist circumference of more than 102 cm in men or 88 in women
- HDL Cholesterol (good cholesterol) levels of less than 40 mg/dL in men or 50mg/dL in women
- Hypertension: a blood pressure of over 130/85 mmHg or the use of antihypertensive drugs
- Increased serum triglyceride levels (150 mg/dL or higher).
According to Wong and his collaborators, these components must be assessed and managed as a whole. Despite the fact that the prevalence of the disease had not increased, these figures reflect a noteworthy problem which needs to be addressed.
Patients presenting all these factors together have much higher chances of future cardiovascular complications than in the case of patients where any one of these factors presents individually.
Wong explains that we will begin to soon witness the negative health effects of this high prevalence of metabolic syndrome.
Image Source: The Telegraph
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