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      Vascular Disease in the Metabolic Syndrome: Do We Need to Target the Microcirculation to Treat Large Vessel Disease?

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          The metabolic syndrome of vascular risk is threatening large numbers of ever-younger people. To date, the syndrome has been chiefly viewed as a potential risk marker that confers a heightened probability of developing type 2 diabetes and occlusive atherothrombotic disease of large- and medium-sized arteries. Accumulating evidence suggests that the components of the metabolic syndrome may also adversely affect the microvasculature through several inter-related mechanisms. These include the following observations: classic risk factors for macrovascular disease such as high blood pressure and dyslipidaemia also accelerate microvascular complications of diabetes, lesser disturbances of glucose metabolism (i.e. impaired glucose tolerance) may be associated with some forms of microvascular dysfunction, non-glucose intermediary metabolites may promote renovascular hypertension thereby damaging the microvasculature, and insulin resistance appears to be directly associated with microvascular dysfunction. In turn, microvascular complications such as nephropathy and autonomic neuropathy may promote the development and progression of atherosclerosis. We argue that the vascular implications of the metabolic syndrome should be broadened to include the microvasculature. The hypothesis that vascular events can be prevented, or at least deferred, through earlier therapeutic intervention in pre-diabetic subjects with glucose intolerance is amenable to testing in clinical trials.

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          Most cited references 94

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          Report of the Expert Committee on the Diagnosis and Classification of Diabetes Mellitus

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            Long-term complications of diabetes mellitus.

             Paul Nathan (1993)
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              Onset of NIDDM occurs at least 4-7 yr before clinical diagnosis.

              To investigate duration of the period between diabetes onset and its clinical diagnosis. Two population-based groups of white patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes (NIDDM) in the United States and Australia were studied. Prevalence of retinopathy and duration of diabetes subsequent to clinical diagnosis were determined for all subjects. Weighted linear regression was used to examine the relationship between diabetes duration and prevalence of retinopathy. Prevalence of retinopathy at clinical diagnosis of diabetes was estimated to be 20.8% in the U.S. and 9.9% in Australia and increased linearly with longer duration of diabetes. By extrapolating this linear relationship to the time when retinopathy prevalence was estimated to be zero, onset of detectable retinopathy was calculated to have occurred approximately 4-7 yr before diagnosis of NIDDM. Because other data indicate that diabetes may be present for 5 yr before retinopathy becomes evident, onset of NIDDM may occur 9-12 yr before its clinical diagnosis. These findings suggest that undiagnosed NIDDM is not a benign condition. Clinically significant morbidity is present at diagnosis and for years before diagnosis. During this preclinical period, treatment is not being offered for diabetes or its specific complications, despite the fact that reduction in hyperglycemia, hypertension, and cardiovascular risk factors is believed to benefit patients. Imprecise dating of diabetes onset also obscures investigations of the etiology of NIDDM and studies of the nature and importance of risk factors for diabetes complications.

                Author and article information

                J Vasc Res
                Journal of Vascular Research
                S. Karger AG
                October 2009
                30 June 2009
                : 46
                : 6
                : 515-526
                Institute of Developmental Sciences, School of Medicine, University of Southampton, Southampton General Hospital, Southampton, UK
                226220 J Vasc Res 2009;46:515–526
                © 2009 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 1, Tables: 2, References: 145, Pages: 12
                Vascular Update


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