Vol 21, No 1 (2014)
Review Article
Published online: 2013-05-25

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The metabolic syndrome entanglement: Cutting the Gordian knot

Enrique Z. Fisman, Alexander Tenenbaum
DOI: 10.5603/CJ.a2013.0054
Cardiol J 2014;21(1):1-5.


Questions have been raised on the clinical value of the metabolic syndrome (MS). The negative opinion regarding MS is anchored basically on a separate analysis of 4 conditions: obesity, dyslipidemia, hypertension and glucose intolerance. The common denominator of these 4 sets of arguments is that they represent an utterly simplistic view of MS as a solely predictive tool of morbidity or mortality. We believe that it is inequitable to compare it with statistically constructed predictive tools, including stronger prognostic variables even unrelated to one another from the biological point of view. Several recent large meta-analyses — one of them including nearly one million patients — systematically showed that people with MS are at increased risk of cardiovascular (CV) events. MS was associated with a 2-fold increase in CV outcomes and a 1.5-fold increase in all-cause mortality rates. A very important finding was that CV risk still remained high in patients with MS but without diabetes. The presence of MS possesses a definitely predictive value, but above all it is a widely accepted concept regarding a biological condition based on complex and interrelated pathophysiological mechanisms emanating from excess central adiposity and insulin resistance. The risk factors are multiplicative, meaning that the risk of a CV disease from risk factors rises geometrically, not linearly, as the number of risk factors increases. Therefore, currently available evidences strongly support the concept of the MS as a critical clustering of CV risk factors and diabetes, representing a true and solid evolving clinical entity.