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A Clinical Perspective of Obesity, Metabolic Syndrome and Cardiovascular Disease

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Review

A Clinical Perspective of Obesity, Metabolic Syndrome and Cardiovascular Disease

Thang S Han et al. JRSM Cardiovasc Dis.

Abstract

The metabolic syndrome is a condition characterized by a special constellation of reversible major risk factors for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. The main, diagnostic, components are reduced HDL-cholesterol, raised triglycerides, blood pressure and fasting plasma glucose, all of which are related to weight gain, specifically intra-abdominal/ectopic fat accumulation and a large waist circumference. Using internationally adopted arbitrary cut-off values for waist circumference, having metabolic syndrome doubles the risk of cardiovascular disease, but offers an effective treatment approach through weight management. Metabolic syndrome now affects 30-40% of people by age 65, driven mainly by adult weight gain, and by a genetic or epigenetic predisposition to intra-abdominal/ectopic fat accumulation related to poor intra-uterine growth. Metabolic syndrome is also promoted by a lack of subcutaneous adipose tissue, low skeletal muscle mass and anti-retroviral drugs. Reducing weight by 5-10%, by diet and exercise, with or without, anti-obesity drugs, substantially lowers all metabolic syndrome components, and risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Other cardiovascular disease risk factors such as smoking should be corrected as a priority. Anti-diabetic agents which improve insulin resistance and reduce blood pressure, lipids and weight should be preferred for diabetic patients with metabolic syndrome. Bariatric surgery offers an alternative treatment for those with BMI ≥ 40 or 35-40 kg/m(2) with other significant co-morbidity. The prevalence of the metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease is expected to rise along with the global obesity epidemic: greater emphasis should be given to effective early weight-management to reduce risk in pre-symptomatic individuals with large waists.

Keywords: Coronary heart disease; bariatric surgery; diabetes; insulin resistance; weight management.

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