There is a long debate about putative cardioprotective effects of alcohol. However, prevalence of metabolic syndrome (MetS) in men and women that use alcohol has been inconsistent in the literature.
The aim of this study was 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.
One-hundred 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. We used the AHA/NHBLI criteria to determine the rate of MetS and each single criterion of MetS in both groups.
The prevalence of MetS was almost twice as high in men and women with alcohol dependence compared to control subjects (30.6% vs. 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. HDL-cholesterol was higher in men and women with alcohol dependence.
Our results demonstrate an increased rate of the MetS, increased blood pressure and dysregulation of glucose and lipid metabolism in alcohol dependent patients. Whether high HDL-cholesterol in this context has cardioprotective effects remain doubtful.