• Alcohol dependence;
  • glucose metabolism;
  • lipid metabolism;
  • metabolic syndrome


Aims  Prevalence of metabolic syndrome (MetS) in men and women who use alcohol has been inconsistent in the literature. The aim of this study is to compare the prevalence of MetS in patients with a diagnosis of alcohol dependence who are currently abstinent in a controlled environment, and in control subjects followed in primary care from a similar region in Northern Germany.

Design  Cross-sectional study.

Setting  In-patient cognitive behavioural therapy.

Participants  One hundred and ninety-seven men and women with alcohol dependence during behavioural treatment in a controlled environment were compared to 1158 subjects from primary care from a similar region in northern Germany.

Measurements  We used the American Heart Association/National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (AHA/NHBLI) criteria to determine the rate of MetS and each single criterion of MetS in both groups.

Findings  The prevalence of MetS was almost twice as high in men and women with alcohol dependence compared to control subjects (30.6% versus 17.0%). With respect to the single criteria, elevations were found for fasting glucose and blood pressure in both genders and for triglycerides in women only. High density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol was higher in men and women with alcohol dependence.

Conclusions  Our results demonstrate an increased rate of MetS, increased blood pressure and dysregulation of glucose and lipid metabolism in alcohol-dependent patients. Whether high HDL-cholesterol has cardioprotective effects in this context remain doubtful.