The Metabolic Syndrome is a group of risk factors that has been proven to increase a person’s risk for diabetes, heart disease and stroke – now a new study suggests that the metabolic syndrome may also increase a woman’s risk for developing peripheral artery disease (a narrowing of the blood vessels in the legs).
The Metabolic Syndrome is often referred to as “pre-diabetes.” The risk factors for the Metabolic Syndrome include:
- Waist Circumference greater than 35 inches in women, greater than 40 inches in men
- HDL (good) cholesterol levels less than 50 mg/dl in women, less than 40 mg/dl in men
- High blood pressure or blood pressure greater than 130/85
- Fasting blood sugar greater than 100 mg/dl
- Triglyceride levels greater than 150 mg/dl
The Metabolic Syndrome is diagnosed if a person has three or more of the above risk factors.
The Women’s Health Study followed over 27,000 women. Results published in the Journal of the American Heart Association (Sept 2009) found an increased risk of peripheral artery disease in women who had the Metabolic Syndrome. Women with the Metabolic Syndrome had higher levels of inflammation inside the blood vessel walls. Inflammation has been found to be a risk factor for coronary artery disease and stroke and the researchers suspect inflammation is also associated with the increased risk of leg artery disease. Symptoms of peripheral artery disease include cramping and pain in the legs with activity and a heaviness in the legs, although many people are asymptomatic.
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