Approaches to controlling dyslipidemia in patients with metabolic syndrome must take into consideration a patient's individual characteristics and underlying lipid disorder: Some patients will require pharmacologic therapy, whereas others can be controlled with lifestyle changes alone. The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Adult Treatment Panel III (ATP III) guidelines recommend that patients with at least 3 of the following clinical variables be designated as having metabolic syndrome: abdominal obesity as reflected in increased waist circumference; a low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) level; an elevated triglyceride level; elevated blood pressure or treatment with antihypertensive medications; and/or elevated fasting plasma glucose or treatment with antidiabetic medications. Unless patients with metabolic syndrome change their lifestyle, existing cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors will worsen or new risk factors will develop. This helps explain why these patients are at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM) and coronary heart disease (CHD). The lifestyle changes recommended by NCEP ATP III for controlling dyslipidemia (ie, elevated levels of triglycerides and decreased levels of HDL-C) in patients with metabolic syndrome or type 2DM include (1) reduced intake of saturated fats and dietary cholesterol, (2) intake of dietary options to enhance lowering of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, (3) weight control, and (4) increased physical activity. If lifestyle changes are not successful for individuals at high risk of developing CHD, or for those who currently have CHD, a CHD risk equivalent, or persistent atherogenic dyslipidemia, then pharmacotherapy may be necessary as defined by NCEP ATP III guidelines.
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