Metabolic syndrome is deadly to heart failure patients

July 23, 2009

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of risk factors for heart disease and diabetes that includes high blood pressure, fat accumulation around the waist (this contributes to inflammation and insulin resistance), high levels of bad LDL cholesterol and low levels of "good" HDL cholesterol, high levels of harmful blood fats called triglycerides, and high blood sugar. In patients with heart failure, the organ becomes too weak to pump blood efficiently through a person's body, leading to fatigue, swelling of the legs, and difficulty breathing.

“Metabolic syndrome is a risk factor for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and heart failure, but little is known about the impact of metabolic syndrome in patients who already have heart failure,” states lead researcher Dr. Leonardo Tamariz from the University of Miami in Florida.

To investigate, Dr.Tamariz and his team analyzed data for 865 individuals enrolled in a heart failure disease management program in a rural public hospital that primarily serves an indigent population. 40 % of them also had metabolic syndrome. During an average follow-up of 2.6 years, far more patients with metabolic syndrome died than those without metabolic syndrome (24% vs 16%).

After adjusting for a variety of potentially confounding factors, people with heart failure and metabolic syndrome had a 50% greater risk of dying than patients with heart failure only. Doctors treating patients with heart failure “need to address the current metabolic syndrome epidemic in heart failure,” the investigators conclude. The study is published in the June 2009 issue of the journal Clinical Cardiology.