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Metabolic Syndrome May Raise Risk of Peripheral Artery Disease

Women much more likely to develop PAD if they had constellation of other symptoms, researchers found

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Women with metabolic syndrome are at high risk of developing peripheral artery disease, a condition that dramatically raises the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Using data on more than 27,000 women taking part in the Women's Health Study, researchers identified participants with metabolic syndrome, a collection of symptoms including abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, low HDL ("good") cholesterol, high triglyceride levels and insulin resistance.

Women were considered to have metabolic syndrome if they had three or more of those symptoms.

Women with metabolic syndrome had a 62 percent increased risk of developing peripheral artery disease (PAD) compared to those without metabolic syndrome. Each metabolic syndrome symptom raised the risk of PAD by 20 percent, the study found.

About 8 million Americans have peripheral artery disease, which typically affects the arteries in the pelvis and legs. Symptoms include cramping and pain or tiredness in the hip muscles and legs when walking or climbing stairs, although not everyone who has PAD is symptomatic. The pain usually subsides during rest.

The study also found that women with metabolic syndrome and PAD had higher levels of two markers of inflammation -- high sensitivity C-reactive protein and soluble intercellular adhesion molecule-1.

The study appears in the Sept. 8 issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

The association between metabolic syndrome and PAD in women was partially explained by increased inflammation and vascular endothelial dysfunction, according to the researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

While most studies of metabolic syndrome have looked at coronary artery disease and stroke, this study is among the first to look at the risk of developing PAD, the researchers said.

More information

The American Heart Association has more on peripheral artery disease.

-- Jennifer Thomas

SOURCE: American Heart Association, news release, Sept. 8, 2009

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