Metabolic syndrome in women with chronic pain [Fibromyalgia]

[Note: “Metabolic syndrome,” also known as “insulin resistance syndrome,” is a set of risk factors related to risk of type 2 diabetes and diseases related to plaque buildup in artery walls.] Journal: Metabolism. 2007 Jan;56(1):87-93. Authors and affiliation: Loevinger BL, Muller D, Alonso C, Coe CL. Center for Women's Health Research, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, Wisconsin, USA. PMID: 17161230

Fibromyalgia is a prevalent syndrome characterized by chronic pain, fatigue, and insomnia. Patients with Fibromyalgia commonly have an elevated body mass index and are physically inactive, 2 major risk factors for metabolic syndrome. Yet little is known about the relationship between chronic pain conditions and metabolic disturbances. Our study evaluated the risk for, and neuroendocrine correlates of, metabolic syndrome in this patient population.

Women with Fibromyalgia (n = 109) were compared with control healthy women (n = 46), all recruited from the community. Metabolic syndrome was identified by using criteria from the Adult Treatment Panel III with glycosylated hemoglobin concentrations substituted for serum glucose. Catecholamine and cortisol levels were determined from 12-hour overnight urine collections.

Women with Fibromyalgia were 5.56 times more likely than healthy controls to have metabolic syndrome (95% confidence interval, 1.25-24.74). Fibromyalgia was associated with larger waist circumference (P = .04), higher glycosylated hemoglobin (P = .01) and serum triglyceride (P < .001) levels, and higher systolic (P = .003) and diastolic (P = .002) blood pressure. Total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol were also significantly higher in women with fibromyalgia (P = .001 and .02, respectively), although high-density lipoprotein cholesterol was in the reference range. These associations were not accounted for by age or body mass index. Meeting criteria for more metabolic syndrome components was related to higher urinary norepinephrine (NE)/epinephrine and NE/cortisol ratios (P < .001 and P = .009, respectively).

Women with chronic pain from Fibromyalgia are at an increased risk for metabolic syndrome, which may be associated with relatively elevated NE levels in conjunction with relatively reduced epinephrine and cortisol secretion.

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