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Ethn Dis. 2003 Fall;13(4):414-28.

The Metabolic Syndrome in African Americans: a review.

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African American Lipid and Cardiovascular Council, USA.


The Metabolic Syndrome represents a specific clustering of cardiovascular risk factors. One of several recently proposed definitions encompasses 3 or more of the following 5 abnormalities: waist circumference > 102 cm in men or > 88 cm in women, serum triglyceride level > or = 150 mg/dL, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol level < 40 mg/dL in men or < 50 mg/dL in women, blood pressure (BP) > or = 130/> or = 85 mm Hg and serum glucose > or = 110 mg/dL. The diagnosis of Metabolic Syndrome allows early recognition of an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. African Americans have the highest coronary heart disease mortality of any ethnic group in the United States. African-American women and Hispanic men and women have the highest prevalence of the Metabolic Syndrome. This phenomenon is attributable mainly to the disproportionate occurrence of elevated BP, obesity, and diabetes in African Americans, and the high prevalence of obesity and diabetes in Hispanics. Management of the Metabolic Syndrome consists primarily of modification or reversal of the root causes and direct therapy of the risk factors. The first strategy involves weight reduction and increased physical activity, both of which can improve all components of the syndrome. The second strategy often involves drug treatment of the individual risk factors to further improve BP, lipids, and glucose thereby decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. This comprehensive review is provided as part of the educational activities of the African-American Lipid and Cardiovascular Council (AALCC).

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