Abstract: The prevalence of diabetes is increasing worldwide. Insulin resistance and diabetes mellitus are major predictors of cardiovascular ischaemic disease. Other risk factors for cardiovascular death including hypertension, dyslipidaemia, smoking and visceral obesity are especially lethal in diabetics. C-reactive protein, plasminogen activator inhibitor-1, matrix metalloproteinases and other emerging risk factors and their roles are continually being researched and discovered.
Treatment of this syndrome must be aimed at lifestyle modification, glycaemic control and management of concomitant risk factors. Diet and exercise play a vital role in the treatment of diabetes and the metabolic syndrome. Weight reduction and increased physical activity will improve insulin resistance, hyperglycaemia, hypertension and dyslipidaemia. Hypertension management has been shown to be especially important in diabetics to prevent cardiovascular events. Likewise, multiple clinical trials show that reduction of cholesterol is even more vital in diabetics than the general population for risk reduction of coronary disease.
There is a great deal of evidence that tight control of glycaemia is essential to treatment of this condition. There are a variety of available pharmacological agents available including metformin, insulin secretagogues, alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, thiazolidinediones and insulin. The mechanisms and side effects of these medications are discussed. As macrovascular disease is the major cause of morbidity and mortality, an early, aggressive, multi-factorial approach to treatment of the metabolic syndrome and diabetes is vital to prevent adverse cardiac outcomes.