Estonian Metabolic Syndrome Research Ranks 4th in the World
A metabolic syndrome research overview published by Science Watch in July shows that Estonia is fourth in the world concerning importance of scientific articles written on the disorder. The first three are Finland, Great Britain and Australia.
The Overview of metabolic syndrome research during the last ten+ years was published in Science Watch (news) portal. Most of the Estonian research has been done in the University of Tartu Hospital, as it is basically the only clinical science institution in Estonia. Most research groups of the Faculty of Medicine and many groups of Faculty of Exercise and Sport Sciences do not research the metabolic syndrome.
According to Science Watch, metabolic syndrome is an umbrella term for a group of many interconnected and co-occurring factors which increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes or heart attack. Cause of the syndrome is still undiscovered, but all the risk factors seem to be linked to obesity.
Sulev Kõks (pictured), the professor of physiologic genomics at the University of Tartu, explains that metabolic syndrome is not a standalone disease but a clinical syndrome with three symptoms connected to waist measurement, „good“ cholesterol, fatty acids, blood pressure and the amount of sugar in one’s blood.
„When three of these symptoms are present, we can call it the metabolic syndrome. It is a general disorder in metabolism that starts to self-regenerate. The leading factor is often insulin resistance that leads to increase in blood sugar and disturbances in metabolism of lipids,“ explains Kõks.
Kõks says that improving our general understanding of metabolic syndrome is one of the most important challenges of the research. He points to an important question: which biochemical factors participate in development of the syndrome and are there any methods to „reverse“ the process? „Using new technologies for the research is likewise a great challenge– such as using metabolomics and genomics to identify hereditary predisposition and early diagnostic markers,“ Kõks added.
When talking about possible future of the research, Kõks stated the goal of finding new diagnostic markers and improving our fundamental understanding of metabolic syndrome. „Ideally, we could develop medications that will help to set patients’ metabolism back to normal.“
Most research groups of the Faculty of Medicine (the Centre of Excellence for Translational Medicine and several clinics) and many groups of Faculty of Exercise and Sport Sciences research metabolic syndrome. It is an integrated field with many research groups intensely working together, thus also offering a great example of the scope of intra-university collaboration.
Five symptoms, three of which hint at metabolic syndrome (according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases):
-Waist measurement that exceeds 101,6 cm (40 inches) for males or 88,9 cm (35 inches) for females;
- the level of triglycerides (the fatty acids in blood) 150 mg/dl or more, or receiving medical treatment for this;
- HDL („the good cholesterol“) level under 40 mg/dl (males) or 50 mg/dl (females)
- blood pressure over 130/85 or using medications connected with this.
- fasting blood sugar 100 mg/dl or more, or receiving medical treatment connected with this.
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