Public Release: 

Emory conference to educate health professionals about 'metabolic syndrome'

Emory University Health Sciences Center

An estimated 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 emerging health problem is the focus of a symposium for health professionals on Friday, May 21, hosted by the Emory University School of Medicine.

Thirteen nationally recognized experts on this increasingly common disorder will present at a daylong conference called "Metabolic Syndrome: An Obesity-Related National Epidemic---Mechanisms, Clinical Care and Future Directions. The event is CME-accredited and will include session topics on the clinical characteristics, pathogenesis and treatment of the metabolic syndrome, its associated conditions, and future research directions. It will be held from 8:00 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. in the auditorium of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center Administration Building on the Emory campus at 1440 Clifton Road.

Metabolic Syndrome, also known as Syndrome X, is a clustering of cardiovascular disease risk factors that is highly linked to obesity. It 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. The diagnosis of the condition 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. "It's a major challenge for clinicians and scientists to determine the true risk of the particular cardiovascular risk factors and their combinations in individual patients," Dr. Ziegler says, "because everything must be considered for effective treatment options."

In an effort to educate the public on preventive measures, a free public seminar will also be held on Saturday, May 22 at 9:30 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. "New Strategies to Prevent Diabetes and Obesity: The Latest in Diet, Fitness and Drug Therapy," will also be held in the auditorium of the Woodruff Health Sciences Center Administration Building on the Emory campus.

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.

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

The program is jointly sponsored by the Emory Center for Clinical and Molecular Nutrition and Emory University School of Medicine and co-sponsored by the American Society for Clinical Nutrition (ACSN) and the North American Association for the Study of Obesity (NAASO). The public program is co-sponsored by Emory Healthcare.


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