Systemic Inflammation: Are you suffering from symptoms you are not aware of?
Leg Circulation Problems Linked to Systemic Inflammation
Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a narrowing of the arteries in the extremities—usually the lower legs. PAD reduces blood circulation, and while it often causes no outward symptoms, sometimes it results in unpleasant effects such as leg cramping while walking or climbing stairs, leg numbness or weakness, and unhealthy-looking changes in the toenails.
Women are at an increased risk of developing severe symptomatic PAD if they have metabolic syndrome, which means they meet at least three of five criteria—insulin resistance, high blood pressure, increased middle fat, elevated blood triglycerides, and elevated LDL cholesterol.
But results of a 13-year study of more than 22,000 middle-aged women, who were cleared of cardiovascular disease at the start of the study, indicate that it's not actually metabolic syndrome per se that's responsible for symptomatic PAD. Instead, systemic inflammation is the culprit.
The women who had metabolic syndrome at the start of the study ultimately proved to have a 62 percent higher risk of developing symptomatic PAD than those who didn't have metabolic syndrome. And, their risk went up by 21 percent for each of the five metabolic syndrome criteria they met.
But researchers wanted to know whether it was metabolic syndrome, or perhaps one of those five risk factors, that set them up for PAD. So, they adjusted for the risk factors, re-examined the numbers, and found that the one thing that tied the symptomatic PAD sufferers together wasn't metabolic syndrome or any of its risk factors—it was their blood levels of inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein.
My View: You can reduce your systemic inflammation
The results of this study, which was spearheaded at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, suggest that inflammation is at the root of metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and PAD.