What Is Metabolic Syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome refers to several related conditions that occur as a group:
- high blood pressure
- high blood sugar
- low levels of good cholesterol
- excess fat around your waist
- high triglycerides—a type of fat present in your blood
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), metabolic syndrome is appearing with increasing frequency in the United States. Researchers don’t agree on the definition or cause of metabolic syndrome. However, it’s clear that certain lifestyle changes can make a difference in prevention and treatment. It’s often crucial to make improvements to diet and fitness levels to reduce the risk of developing a life-threatening condition.
Doctors aren’t certain whether metabolic syndrome is due to a single cause. However, it appears that all of the condition’s risk factors are related to insulin resistance and obesity. A top risk factor for metabolic syndrome is insulin resistance.
Your body produces the hormone insulin to help you convert sugar from the food you eat into energy. Insulin resistance means your body can’t use insulin effectively. This causes your blood sugar and fat levels to rise.
Other Risk Factors
Another main risk factor for metabolic syndrome is abdominal obesity. Carrying extra weight around your midsection or being “apple-shaped” is a greater risk factor for heart disease than carrying extra fat in other areas, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).
Additional risk factors include:
- lack of exercise
- hormone changes
- genetic factors
- chronic inflammation, which can contribute to heart disease risk
- excess blood clotting
Symptoms of the Syndrome
According to the Cleveland Clinic, three or more of the following signs indicates metabolic syndrome:
- waist size of 40 inches or more (men), or 35 inches or more (women)
- blood pressure at or above 130 over 85 mmHg
- fasting glucose level at or above 100 mg/dL
- fasting triglyceride level at or above 150 mg/dL
- HDL cholesterol level under 40 mg/dL for men, or under 50 mg/dL for women
Your Doctor’s Diagnosis
Worried that you may suffer from metabolic syndrome? There are a number of tests available to help aid diagnosis. It’s easy for your doctor to check your blood pressure, glucose levels, and triglyceride levels. Your doctor is also likely to check your cholesterol levels, including HDL (good cholesterol), and LDL (bad cholesterol), and your total cholesterol levels. These simple tests take little time, and are vital in helping your doctor make a correct diagnosis.
Prevention and Treatment
The primary risk factors for metabolic syndrome are related to obesity. This means it’s possible to take preventative measures, including making lifestyle changes. There are also medicines available that can help reduce your weight, lower your blood pressure, balance your blood sugar, and improve your cholesterol levels. Click ahead to read about the key steps that you can take to help prevent, manage, and treat the condition.
Three Steps to Manage Metabolic Syndrome
1. Weight loss. According to the NIH, those with metabolic syndrome should try to achieve a BMI under 25. Lower your current calorie intake and eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
3. Lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar. Weight loss, exercise, and medicine can be vital to improving your condition. Talk to your doctor to determine the best approach.
Plan for the Future
According to the NIH, if you have metabolic syndrome, you have a greater long-term risk for developing both cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. You also have an increased chance of suffering from complications related to these conditions, such as kidney disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and peripheral artery disease. That’s why it’s crucial to talk to your doctor if you think you may have symptoms.
Play It Safe
Although metabolic syndrome is a serious health concern, it’s highly treatable, especially if it is caught early. Lifestyle changes, such as implementing a healthy fitness and diet plan, can help to prevent serious complications. Don’t take risks with your health. If you’re worried you suffer from metabolic syndrome, make an appointment to see your doctor.