Background: Metabolic syndrome (MetS) has been recognized as a prediabetic constellation of symptoms and an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Methods: To evaluate the age-adjusted risk of stroke and population-attributable risk associated with MetS and compare with those of overt type 2 diabetes mellitus (hereinafter, "diabetes"), we determined the prevalence of MetS alone, diabetes alone, and both in 2097 subjects in the Framingham Offspring Study, aged 50 to 81 years and free of stroke. Age-adjusted risk ratios, 10-year incidence, and population-attributable risks of stroke were estimated for men and women with MetS alone, diabetes alone, and both.
Results: Criteria for MetS were met in 30.3% of men and 24.7% of women. Twenty-four percent of men had MetS alone; 7% had diabetes alone; and 6% had both. Twenty percent of women had MetS alone; 3% had diabetes alone; and 5% had both. Over 14 years of follow-up, 75 men and 55 women developed a first stroke; all but 4 events were ischemic. Relative risk (RR) of stroke in persons with both diabetes and MetS (RR, 3.28; confidence interval [CI], 1.82-5.92) was higher than that for either condition alone (MetS alone: RR, 2.10; CI, 1.37-3.22; diabetes alone: RR, 2.47; CI, 1.31-4.65). The population-attributable risk, owing to its greater prevalence, was greater for MetS alone than for diabetes alone (19% vs 7%), particularly in women (27% vs 5%).
Conclusions: Metabolic syndrome is more prevalent than diabetes and a significant independent risk factor for stroke in people without diabetes. Prevention and control of MetS and its components are likely to reduce stroke incidence.