Metabolic disorders: Urologists' unique role

September 1, 2009

Urologists are in a unique position to detect cardiometabolic risk factors at an early stage and intervene.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute estimates that nearly one-fourth of U.S. adults have a constellation of abnormalities constituting what was once called "syndrome X" and later, "metabolic syndrome." The component disorders include central adiposity, elevated triglycerides, low levels of high-density lipoprotein, hypertension, and elevated blood glucose levels. The cumulative effect is a predisposition to atherosclerotic plaque development, inflammation, and thrombosis, ultimately resulting in premature cardiovascular disease.

Research also shows that cardiometabolic disorders' effects are extensive and may contribute to conditions as diverse as psoriasis, sleep apnea, certain cancers, and many urologic diseases.

Urologists are in a unique position to detect cardiometabolic risk factors at an early stage and intervene. For example, the middle-aged man who complains about declining erectile function is a prime candidate for referral to a cardiovascular specialist, as research shows that erectile dysfunction is an independent indicator of future heart disease. As Ajay Nangia, MD, of the University of Kansas, puts it, "Is the penis the lightning rod to the heart? The answer is, most likely."

Certainly, not every urologist is expected to test patients' glucose or cholesterol levels, but they can be vigilant for cardiometabolic disorders and refer patients when appropriate.

The goal of Urology Times and our Advanstar Life Sciences partners in this initiative is to provide specific knowledge and strategies that health care professionals can use to address this growing public health problem and improve patient outcomes. Look for continuing coverage in our October and November issues. For related multimedia content, see the ModernMedicine Network logo visit http://www.modernmedicine.com/cardiometabolic.

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