Naturally, since the metabolic syndrome is a disorder of energy distribution and storage, fat accumulation explains for a significant proportion of cardiovascular risk. However, obesity without metabolic syndrome does not confer a significant cardiovascular risk, whereas metabolic syndrome without obesity is associated with a significant risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This association of metabolic syndrome with diabetes can be illustrated by generalized lipodystrophy (near complete absence of adipose tissue). The animals and humans with generalized lipodystrophy develop signs of metabolic syndrome in the absence of adipose tissue; and the metabolic syndrome progresses to type 2 diabetes. Adipose tissue transplantation in transgenic mice with lipodystrophy can cure the type 2 diabetes.
Approximately half of individuals with hypertension have OSA, and approximately half with OSA have hypertension. Ambulatory BP monitoring normally reveals a "dip" in BP of at least 10% during sleep. However, if a patient is a "nondipper," the chances that the patient has OSA is increased. Nondipping is thought to be caused by frequent apneic/hypopneic episodes that end with arousals associated with marked spikes in BP that last for several seconds. Apneic episodes are associated with striking increases in sympathetic nerve activity and enormous elevations of BP. Individuals with sleep apnea have increased cardiovascular mortality, in part likely related to the high incidence of hypertension.
The blood vessels and blood are the highways that transport sugar from where it is either taken in (the stomach) or manufactured (in the liver) to the cells where it is used (muscles) or where it is stored (fat). Sugar cannot go into the cells by itself. The pancreas releases insulin into the blood, which serves as the helper, or the "key," that lets sugar into the cells for use as energy.
Cataracts and glaucoma are also more common among diabetics. It is also important to note that since the lens of the eye lets water through, if blood sugar concentrations vary a lot, the lens of the eye will shrink and swell with fluid accordingly. As a result, blurry vision is very common in poorly controlled diabetes. Patients are usually discouraged from getting a new eyeglass prescription until their blood sugar is controlled. This allows for a more accurate assessment of what kind of glasses prescription is required.