Cushing's syndrome (CS) is a clinical condition resulting from chronic exposure to glucocorticoid excess. As a consequence, hypercortisolism contributes significantly to the early development of systemic disorders by direct and/or indirect effects. Complications such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidemia, and hypercoagulability cause premature atherosclerosis and increase cardiovascular mortality. Impairment of the skeletal system is a relevant cause of morbidity and disability in these patients especially due to the high prevalence of vertebral fractures. In addition, muscle weakness, emotional lability, depression, and impairment of quality of life are very common. Clinical management of these patients is complex and should be particularly careful in identifying global cardiovascular risks and aim at controlling all complications. Although the primary goal in the prevention and treatment of complications is the correction of hypercortisolism, treatment does not completely eliminate these comorbidities. Given that cardiovascular risk and fracture risk can persist after cure, early detection of each morbidity could prevent the development of irreversible damage. In this review we present the various complications of CS and their pathogenetic mechanisms. We also suggest the clinical management of these patients based on our extensive clinical experience and on the available literature.
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