August 17, 2005

Blocked arteries in young adults with metabolic syn

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Metabolic syndrome -- a cluster
of conditions such as high blood pressure and high blood sugar
levels that raise the risk of heart disease and diabetes -- is
an important marker of silent or "subclinical" atherosclerosis
in young, otherwise healthy adults, a study shows.

Atherosclerosis is defined as the build-up of fatty plaques
in arteries that inhibit blood flow, raising the risk of heart
attack and stroke.

Previous studies have shown that metabolic syndrome is
associated with silent atherosclerosis and increased
cardiovascular risk in older and middle-aged adults. The
present study demonstrates that these risk associations are
also at work in young adults, Dr. Wendy S. Tzou from University
Medical School in Madison, Wisconsin and colleagues point out.

The finding supports the "importance of screening and early
intervention" in young adults with metabolic syndrome, they
write in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Among 507 nondiabetic subjects with a mean age of 32 in the
Bogalusa Heart Study, a longitudinal study of atherosclerosis
in young adults, 67 (13 percent) met World Health Organization
(WHO) criteria for metabolic syndrome and 65 (13 percent) met
the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) criteria for
metabolic syndrome.

Ultrasound examinations showed that young adults with
metabolic syndrome had thicker neck arteries, an indicator of
atherosclerosis, compared with young adults without metabolic
syndrome. So-called carotid intima-media thickness increased
with the number of components of the metabolic syndrome

The study shows that the "burden of subclinical
atherosclerosis in young adults increases with an increasing
burden of components of metabolic syndrome," according to the
team. High blood pressure and low levels of HDL cholesterol --
the good cholesterol -- are especially powerful predictors of
increased carotid intima-media thickness, the team reports.

"Because metabolic syndrome characteristics and the
magnitude of subclinical atherosclerosis are modifiable, they
might be appropriate for intervention in young adults," Tzou
and colleagues conclude.

SOURCE: Journal American College of Cardiology, August 2,