Findings from a new study published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association suggest that women with metabolic syndrome are at greater risk for peripheral artery disease (PAD), a condition that can lead to heart disease and stroke.
While most studies on metabolic syndrome have focused on risk for heart disease and stroke, this is among the first to look at risk for developing PAD.
PAD typically affects the arteries in the pelvis and legs. It occurs when plaque builds up in the arteries. Symptoms include cramping and pain or tiredness in the hip muscles and legs when walking or climbing stairs.
Researchers analyzed data from more than 27,000 healthy middle-aged women taking part in the Women's Health Study. They found that 25 percent had metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of risk factors linked to being overweight or obese. The risk factors are a large waistline, high blood pressure, low HDL ("good") cholesterol, high triglyceride levels, and higher-than-normal blood sugar.
In this study, women with three or more of these risk factors were considered to have metabolic syndrome.
During an average of 13 years, 114 of all the women developed PAD. Women with metabolic syndrome had a 62 percent higher risk for PAD than women who did not have metabolic syndrome. Each metabolic syndrome risk factor raised the risk for PAD by 20 percent.
The link between metabolic syndrome and PAD in women was largely explained by increased inflammation. Women with metabolic syndrome had higher levels of two markers of inflammation than their peers who did not have the syndrome.
Nearly 25 percent of U.S. adults have metabolic syndrome, and the numbers keep growing. The condition is linked with being overweight and not getting enough physical activity.
A healthy lifestyle, which includes the following healthy habits, can help you to prevent or delay metabolic syndrome.
Maintain a healthy weight. Follow a healthy eating plan and try not to overeat. In general, eat fewer calories and less saturated fat. Emphasize whole grains, fish, and fruits and veggies in your diet.
Increase physical activity. Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate activity, such as brisk walking, at least five days a week. Work up to 60 minutes five to seven days a week. Your doctor can help you decide how much and what kinds of activities are right for you.
Track your numbers. See your doctor regularly to monitor and track your cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels.
Always consult your physician for more information.
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Drinks sweetened with fructose can increase the risk for metabolic syndrome in overweight or obese people and may increase the risk for cardiovascular disease. So it's important to choose your beverages just as thoughtfully as you choose your foods.
The Facts on Fructose. Fructose is one of many naturally occurring sugars. It's found in fruits and vegetables and in table sugar, or sucrose. It's added to corn syrup, too, to make high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). All three--fructose, sucrose, and HFCS--may be used to sweeten beverages, like sodas, fruit drinks, and smoothies, or the flavored syrups used in drinks like specialty coffees.
Researchers have linked a high-fructose diet to increased blood glucose, increased triglycerides, and abdominal obesity--all are risk factors for metabolic syndrome. These risk factors increase the risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.