By: Jan Chait
A middle-aged man with a “beer belly,” unhealthy cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, and elevated blood glucose is three times more likely to die from cardiovascular problems and twice as likely to die from other causes as a man who doesn’t have this metabolic syndrome.
The metabolic syndrome is characterized as insulin resistance, elevated blood glucose, excess weight with fat distribution in the abdominal area, abnormal lipid levels and high blood pressure.
In the Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study, researchers studied 1,209 Finnish men ages 42 to 60 who were symptom-free at the beginning of the 11-year study. The death rate was higher among those who had the metabolic syndrome, despite the absence of cardiovascular disease or diabetes at the beginning of the study.
“By themselves, these risk factors are often considered unimportant and may be overlooked,” says the study’s author, Hanna-Maaria Lakka, “but to-gether they pose serious risk and increase the risk of having heart disease, stroke and even dying from these diseases.”
She added that doctors can prescribe drugs to control blood glucose, lipids and blood pressure, and people with the metabolic syndrome can exercise and attempt to lose weight.
—Journal of the American Medical Association, December 4, 2002