Background: Microvascular complications of diabetes contribute significantly to the disease morbidity. The metabolic syndrome is very common among subjects with diabetes and is a very important risk factor for macrovascular complications. However, its contribution to the microvascular complication has not been assessed.
Objectives: To assess the risk of microvascular complications associated with the metabolic syndrome in diabetes subjects.
Methods: The study group comprised 415 diabetic subjects attending a primary care clinic. The prevalence of microvascular complications was compared between 270 diabetic subjects with metabolic syndrome (NCEP-III criteria) and 145 diabetic patients without.
Results: We found that as a group, diabetic subjects with metabolic syndrome had significantly higher frequency of microvascular-related complications than diabetic subjects without the syndrome (46.6% and 26.8% respectively, P = 0.0005). These include microalbuminuria (41.5% vs. 23.9%, P = 0.013), neuropathy (10.4% vs. 7.5%, P = 0.38), retinopathy (9.6% vs. 4.1%, P = 0.046) and leg ulcers (7.9% vs. 2.8%, P = 0.044). After adjustment for age, gender, glycemic control, disease duration, lipid profile and blood pressure, metabolic syndrome was associated with a significantly higher risk of microvascular complications: odds ratio (95% confidence interval) for nephropathy 2.27 (1.53–3.34), neuropathy 1.77 (0.79–4.0), retinopathy 3.42 (1.2–9.87), and leg ulcers 3.57 (1.08–11.95).
Conclusions: In addition to hyperglycemia and disease duration, the metabolic syndrome is a significant risk factor for the development of microvascular complications in diabetic subjects.