Background: One of the major controversies surrounding the metabolic syndrome (MetS) in type 2 diabetes is whether its single components act synergistically as risk factors for atherosclerotic vascular disease (AVD). We aimed to answer this by evaluating the relationship, and its various combinations to AVD in comparison to single traits in a population-based study with type 2 diabetes in Germany.
Methods and results: 4020 unselected patients with type 2 diabetes aged 35 - 80 years. MetS was: diabetes plus > or = 2 traits of the MetS by AHA/NHBLI definition.AVD was: history of myocardial infarction and/or coronary revascularization and/or stroke. The occurrence of AVD in relation to overall MetS/single traits/combinations was presented as OR (95% CI). Multiple logistic regression, including established cardiovascular risk factors, modeled their associations. The prevalence of overall MetS was 74.4% and the OR for AVD was 1.41 (1.12-1.78), which however was higher for hypertension as single trait (OR 4.76). Different combinations of MetS presented a wide range of ORs (0.47 to 10.90) and strong sex differences. Some clusters of MetS including hypertension and low HDL-cholesterol presented a higher risk factor than single traits or their sum, whereas the others out of 11 possible carried no increased AVD risk. Multiple logistic regression showed independent association between AVD and overall MetS.
Conclusion: The overall MetS in type 2 diabetes comprises 11 heterogenous clusters of traits. Overall MetS increases the risk of AVD in type 2 diabetes and individual traits in some clusters with hypertension and low HDL-cholesterol may act synergistically as risk factors particularly in women.