Obesity is associated with an increased mortality and morbidity for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and adipose tissue is recognised as an important player in obesity-mediated CVD. The diagnosis of the metabolic syndrome (MS) appears to identify substantial additional cardiovascular risk above and beyond the individual risk factors, even though the pathophysiology underlying this evidence is still unravelled.
The inflammatory response related to fat accumulation may influence cardiovascular risk through its involvement not only in body weight homeostasis, but also in coagulation, fibrinolysis, endothelial dysfunction, insulin resistance (IR) and atherosclerosis. Moreover, there is evidence that oxidative stress may be a mechanistic link between several components of MS and CVD, through its role in inflammation and its ability to disrupt insulin-signaling. The cross-talk between impaired insulin-signaling and inflammatory pathways enhances both metabolic IR and endothelial dysfunction, which synergize to predispose to CVD.
Persistent platelet hyperreactivity/activation emerges as the final pathway driven by intertwined interactions among IR, adipokine release, inflammation, dyslipidemia and oxidative stress and provides a pathophysiological explanation for the excess risk of atherothrombosis in this setting.
Despite the availability of multiple interventions to counteract these metabolic changes, including appropriate diet, regular exercise, antiobesity drugs and bariatric surgery, relative failure to control the incidence of MS and its complications reflects both the multifactorial nature of these diseases as well as the scarce compliance of patients to established strategies. Evaluation of the impact of these therapeutic strategies on the pathobiology of atherothrombosis, as discussed in this review, will translate into an optimized approach for cardiovascular prevention.