Sex Differences in the Metabolic Syndrome: Implications for Cardiovascular Health in Women
Aruna D. Pradhan, Division of Preventive Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, and Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, VA Boston Medical Center, Boston, MA firstname.lastname@example.org.
Background: The metabolic syndrome is a clinical condition characterized by the presence of multiple interrelated risk factors for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Component features include dysglycemia, increased blood pressure, increased triglycerides, decreased HDL cholesterol concentrations, and obesity (in particular, abdominal obesity). The underlying biology, optimal diagnostic criteria, and clinical implications, once diagnosed, have been matter for intense debate. Despite these areas of controversy, there is now general consensus that the observed risk factor clustering signifies heightened cardiovascular risk.
Content: The influence of sex on the clinical expression and pathophysiology of the syndrome is underrecognized, and is an issue of increasing importance given the alarming increase in prevalence among young women. This minireview will highlight sex differences in the epidemiology, etiology, biology, and clinical expression of the metabolic syndrome. In particular, key sex differences include distinctions in (a) prevalence of dysglycemia, (b) body fat distribution, (c) adipocyte size and function, (d) hormonal regulation of body weight and adiposity, and (e) the influence of estrogen decline on risk factor clustering.
Summary: Accumulated and emerging data convincingly demonstrate that significant heterogeneity exists between men and women developing the metabolic syndrome, in large part related to hormonal regulation of body fat distribution and attendant metabolic abnormalities.
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