Monday, June 1, 2015

One-Third of Americans Have Dangerous Mix of Heart Risk Factors

More than one-third of U.S. adults have a combination of health problems collectively known as metabolic syndrome that increase the risk of heat disease and diabetes, according to new research.

What’s worse, the researchers found the rate of metabolic syndrome increases dramatically with age. Almost half of people 60 or older in the United States have metabolic syndrome, the study found.

“That’s concerning, because we know the population of the U.S. is aging,” said senior author Dr. Robert Wong, an assistant clinical professor at University of California, San Francisco. “I think it will potentially place a huge burden on our health care system.”

Metabolic syndrome is a “perfect storm” of conditions that include high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, increased levels of blood sugar, and a wider waist circumference, Wong said.

Medical experts are turning to metabolic syndrome as a key indicator of heart health risk. “Metabolic syndrome is a more comprehensive analysis, because it takes into account a lot of risk factors,” Wong said.

To assess the nation’s rate of metabolic syndrome, Wong and his colleagues used health data on Americans gathered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention between 2003 and 2013.

The researchers concluded that 35% of all U.S. adults had metabolic syndrome in 2011-2012. That number is up slightly from 33% in 2003-2004, the researchers said.

Obesity is considered a leading factor in metabolic syndrome, and the overall rate of both conditions mirror each other, Wong said.

But the researchers also found that age strongly influences metabolic syndrome. About 47% of people 60 or older have metabolic syndrome. Only about 18% of adults 20 to 39 years old have the condition.

The study’s findings are in the May 19 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

My Take:
Metabolic syndrome is the greatest impediment to my patient’s recovery, regardless of their chief complaint. It drives inflammation and if you can’t reduce inflammation, you can not resolve symptoms. It also hampers healing so even if you can reduce or resolve symptoms, there is no real recovery without healing and the symptoms quickly return. This is true for low back pain, atrial fibrillation, leaky gut and anything else you can think of.

I check every new patient for metabolic syndrome and I think these statistics are low. I commonly find indicators of metabolic syndrome in patients in their 20’s and 30’s. They look fit, claim to eat well and exercise regularity but it is still there.

Hypothyroidism is another factor in metabolic syndrome that was not mentioned (or evaluated) in the study. I believe it is the reason that statistics for women over the age of 60 (50%) are higher than men as the condition primarily affects women.

The Bottom Line:
Have your physician check you yearly for signs of metabolic syndrome. As of June 1, 2015, the glycohemoglobin A1c is the gold standard for diagnosing diabetes. It is an excellent indicator of metabolic syndrome as well. Please have your physician run this simple, non-fasting blood test.

Source: May 19, 2015 National Institutes of Health

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