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Media Contact: Tia McCollors 14 April 2004    
  (404) 727-5692   Print  | Email ]

Conference to Discuss Obesity-Related Epidemic of "Metabolic Syndrome"
The Emory University School of Medicine is hosting a scientific symposium to address and combat an emerging health problem known as "Metabolic Syndrome" - a clustering of cardiovascular disease risk factors. Also known as Syndrome X, the condition causes an increased risk of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other diseases related to plaque buildups in artery walls, such as stroke and peripheral vascular disease.

A scientific symposium for health professionals will be held on Friday, May 21. The program, entitled "Metabolic Syndrome: An Obesity-Related National Epidemic---Mechanisms, Clinical Care and Future Directions," is CME accredited and will feature 13 nationally recognized experts on this increasingly common disorder. The session topics will focus on the clinical characteristics, pathogenesis and treatment of the metabolic syndrome, its associated conditions, and future research directions.

A free public seminar, "New Strategies to Prevent Diabetes and Obesity: The Latest in Diet, Fitness and Drug Therapy," will be held on Saturday, May 22 at 9:30 a.m. Medical experts from Emory, Northwestern University, University of Colorado and University of California at Los Angeles, will discuss issues related to diet, exercise, children's health and risks, and updates on medications for diabetes and high cholesterol. The closing session will be an "ask-the-expert" panel of nationally recognized physicians.

Both the scientific symposium and the free public seminar will be held in the auditorium of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center Administration Building on the Emory campus at 1440 Clifton Road.

In the United States, it is estimated that about 25 percent of adults over the age of 20 and close to 50 percent of adults over the age of 50 have the component risk factors that make up Metabolic Syndrome. The diagnosis of Metabolic Syndrome is based on the presence of three or more cardiovascular disease risk factors, including increased abdominal fat, pre-diabetes, high blood pressure, evidence of mild generalized inflammation, low blood levels of "good" cholesterol (HDL cholesterol) and/or high blood levels of triglycerides (circulating fats in the blood).

"The actual criteria for diagnosis of Metabolic Syndrome are still being debated by researchers," says Thomas R. Ziegler, M.D., associate professor of medicine, Department of Medicine, and director of the Emory Center for Clinical and Molecular Nutrition. "For example, some criteria include abnormalities such as a tendency for easy blood clotting and evidence of oxidative stress as key components of the Metabolic Syndrome. Also, possible genetic aspects of this disorder are still being intensively studied as well."

Dr. Ziegler also points out that more work is needed to determine methods for early diagnosis of the risk factors that make up the Metabolic Syndrome at an earlier stage before they result in major health problems such as full-blown diabetes, heart attack and stroke.

"A major challenge for clinicians and scientists is determining the true risk of the particular cardiovascular risk factors and their combinations in individual patients," Dr. Ziegler says. "For example, what blood sugar level should prompt oral medication or insulin treatment in an obese patient with high blood pressure and abnormal blood fats? What is the best diet and exercise regimen for an obese patient who also has slightly increased blood pressure and low levels of antioxidants in the blood? It's important that a person's individual factors must be considered for effective treatment options."

People interested in attending one or both days of the symposium should contact the Emory Continuing Medical Education (CME) office at 404-727-5695 (toll-free 888-727-5695) or by email at

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