INTRODUCTION: Data on the prevalence and regional distribution of the metabolic syndrome in Germany are lacking, in particular for primary care. METHODS: In October 2005 anthropometric measurements were taken from 35 869 consecutive patients aged 18 to 99 years, in 1511 primary care practices. Waist circumference, blood pressure, lifestyle, and past medical history were assessed and blood tests taken (HDL-, LDL- and total cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose). Crude and age-standardized prevalence were calculated. RESULTS: Women in the eastern part of Germany showed a higher age-standardized prevalence of the metabolic syndrome than women in the western part (21.1%; 95% CI: 19.9 to 22.4 respectively 17.7%; 95% CI: 17.2 to 18.3). In men the prevalences were 22.7% (95% CI: 20.9 to 24.4) and 21.4% (95% CI: 20.6 to 22.1) respectively. Patients from Saxony-Anhalt, Brandenburg, and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania showed the highest prevalence, while women in Hamburg, Berlin, and Hesse and men in Schleswig-Holstein, Saarland, and Hamburg showed the lowest prevalence. Cardiovascular disease prevalence was comparable, while diabetes prevalence was higher in patients from eastern Germany (17% vs.13% in men; 12% vs. 9% in women). DISCUSSION: The prevalence of the metabolic syndrome in German primary care is high. Prevention efforts should focus in particular on differences in gender, socioeconomic status, and region.
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