All told, having metabolic syndrome conferred a 2.5-fold greater relative risk for experiencing heart failure.
The team concluded that metabolic syndrome (and insulin resistance and inflammation, in particular) is a significant and independent marker of heart failure risk, and is more of a warning sign than obesity alone.
Commenting on the study, Dr. Robert Scott III, an associate professor of internal medicine at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine and a senior staff cardiologist at Scott & White in Temple, Texas, said the findings clearly suggest that metabolic syndrome "is the bad actor at play."
"Yes, in general, obesity is a bad thing," he noted. "But it's not everything. And here we have a bit of fine-tuning that suggests that the important thing with obesity tends to be the metabolic syndrome."
"And that means," Scott added, "that if you have this constellation of factors -- high blood pressure, low HDL, high sugar levels -- you are going to face a much higher risk for coronary heart disease and congestive heart failure. Even if you're not obese."
But Dr. Gregg C. Fonarow, a professor of cardiovascular medicine at University of California, Los Angeles, said that while the study drives home the notion that metabolic risk factors are key to heart disease risk, obesity is still a problem.
A Scottish study published earlier this year in the journal Heart, for example, indicated that obese men face a much higher risk of dying from a heart attack, whether or not they also struggle with independent cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
The Greek researchers "are j
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