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Hidden Heart Syndrome: A Third of U.S. Adults at Severe Risk



Clear Facts:

  • The American Heart Association identifies a new condition linking obesity to heart and kidney diseases: cardiovascular-kidney-metabolic syndrome (CKM).
  • CKM, if detected early, can be managed and improved through lifestyle changes and medications.
  • Approximately 33% of U.S. adults have three or more risk factors contributing to cardiovascular, metabolic, and/or kidney diseases.

As the nation combats rising obesity rates, the American Heart Association has spotlighted a new health threat: the cardiovascular-kidney-metabolic syndrome (CKM).

CKM presents a compelling link between obesity, heart disease, and kidney ailments, thus shedding light on the potential risks for those already grappling with metabolic issues.

Dr. Chiadi Ndumele, the pioneer behind this advisory and the director of obesity and cardiometabolic research at Johns Hopkins University, stated, “Reducing the pipeline of individuals progressing toward heart disease is our primary goal.”

Ndumele underscored the significance of recognizing early how interconnected metabolic risk elements, ranging from abdominal fat to high blood sugar, can wreak havoc on the body’s organs.

Dr. Pam Taub, a leading cardiologist at the UC San Diego School of Medicine, labeled the identification of CKM as a “game changer” for patients vulnerable to severe health consequences.

The crux of the strategy hinges on early detection.

Recognizing symptoms when they first appear can enable timely interventions, slowing or even reversing disease progression.

Describing his clinical encounters, Dr. Ndumele revealed, “Several times in my clinical practice I have seen regression after significant lifestyle changes and weight loss.”

To aid in the identification process, a comprehensive four-stage system has been charted:

  • Stage 0: Individuals showcasing zero risk factors linked to heart diseases.
  • Stage 1: Targets those overweight or on the brink of diabetes, with treatment pivoting on lifestyle enhancements and weight management.
  • Stage 2: Pinpoints those grappling with Type 2 diabetes, elevated blood pressure, and related complications, advocating for comprehensive medical interventions.
  • Stage 3: People presenting with early signs of cardiovascular or kidney diseases but remaining asymptomatic. Solutions revolve around heart-centric medications and advanced arterial tests.
  • Stage 4: Individuals diagnosed with advanced heart disease, carrying metabolic risk components, or confronting kidney diseases.

With obesity and Type 2 diabetes skyrocketing in both adults and youngsters, Dr. Ndumele estimates that an overwhelming 90% of U.S. adults teeter on the edge of the CKM spectrum.

The American Heart Association’s advisory rings alarm bells, emphasizing that a staggering one in three U.S. adults harbors at least three risk factors predisposing them to cardiovascular ailments, metabolic disorders, and kidney diseases.

The overarching impact of CKM is felt most acutely on the cardiovascular system, endangering blood vessels and destabilizing heart functions.

In closing, Dr. Ndumele expressed the essence of the advisory, saying, “Screening for kidney and metabolic disease will help us start protective therapies earlier to most effectively prevent heart disease and best manage existing heart disease.”

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