Metabolic syndrome as a risk factor for diabetes
The metabolic syndrome was initially described as an insulin-resistance syndrome characterized by the clustering of metabolic traits such as high triglycerides, low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, high blood pressure, abdominal obesity and different degrees of impaired glucose regulation. Although different definitions have been developed by various consensus groups, epidemiological studies demonstrate that they all associate the metabolic syndrome with a similar cardiometabolic risk, which is high for diabetes (ranging between three- and 20-fold), depending on the number of components and the inclusion of impaired fasting glucose, impaired glucose tolerance or both. The latter appear to indicate the failure of the beta cell to produce enough insulin to compensate for the increased demand due to insulin resistance. There is a hyperbolic relationship between insulin production and insulin sensitivity, which can be calculated by the disposition index. When this is altered there is a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. There have been no clinical trials in subjects selected by the diagnosis of metabolic syndrome, but structured lifestyle changes have been tested in people with impaired fasting glucose/impaired glucose tolerance and have been able to reduce incident Type 2 diabetes by almost 50%, as long as a weight loss of at least 5% is achieved. Oral antidiabetic and anti-obesity drugs have also been successful to a lesser degree. Some fibrates have reduced or delayed incident diabetes. Extended-release niacin has a neutral effect and statins are controversial. ACE inhibitors and ARBs are the antihypertensive agents least associated with incident diabetes.