The following information is taken from The American Heart Association website.
About Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of metabolic disorders. When a patient presents with these conditions together, the chances for future cardiovascular disease is greater than any one factor presenting alone.
For example, high blood pressure alone is a serious condition, but when a patient has high blood pressure along with high fasting glucose levels and abdominal obesity, this patient may be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome. There is a greater chance this patient will have cardiovascular problems because of the combination of risk factors.
Metabolic syndrome is a serious health condition that affects about 23 percent of adults and places them at higher risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke and diseases related to fatty buildups in artery walls. The underlying causes of metabolic syndrome include overweight and obesity, physical inactivity, genetic factors and getting older.
Metabolic syndrome occurs when a person has three or more of the following measurements:
- Abdominal obesity (Waist circumference of 40 inches or above in men, and 35 inches or above in women)
- Triglyceride level of 150 milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL) or greater
- HDL cholesterol of less than 40 mg/dL in men or less than 50 mg/dL in women
- Systolic blood pressure (top number) of 130 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or greater, or diastolic blood pressure (bottom number) of 85 mm Hg or greater
- Fasting glucose of 100 mg/dL or greater
Although metabolic syndrome is a serious condition, you can reduce your risks significantly by reducing your weight; increasing your physical activity; eating a heart-healthy diet that’s rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and fish; and working with your healthcare provider to monitor and manage blood glucose, blood cholesterol, and blood pressure.
What are the symptoms of metabolic syndrome?
Because metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions, many of which must be determined with lab work, this condition is not one that an individual can assess without the help of a healthcare provider. However, if you have a large waist circumference and have been told by your healthcare provider that you have another condition like elevated triglycerides, high blood sugar or high blood pressure, you will need to discuss your combined risks with your healthcare provider.
How is metabolic syndrome diagnosed?
To diagnose metabolic syndrome, most doctors look for the presence of three or more of these components:
- Central or abdominal obesity (measured by waist circumference):
- Men – 40 inches or above
- Women – 35 inches or above
- Triglycerides greater than or equal to 150 milligrams per deciliter of blood (mg/dL)
- HDL cholesterol:
- Men – Less than 40 mg/dL
- Women – Less than 50 mg/dL
- Blood pressure greater than or equal to 130/85 millimeters of mercury (mmHg)
- Fasting glucose greater than or equal to 100 mg/dL
Why Metabolic Syndrome Matters
Metabolic syndrome may be diagnosed when a patient has a cluster of risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Individuals with metabolic syndrome have an increased risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes when compared with individuals who do not have metabolic syndrome. Risk increases when more components of metabolic syndrome are present.
Metabolic syndrome is also associated with a generalized metabolic disorder called insulin resistance, which prevents people from using insulin efficiently. Therefore, metabolic syndrome is also sometimes called insulin resistance syndrome.
People with metabolic syndrome are at increased risk for the following:
- Coronary heart disease and heart attack. When the arteries that supply blood to the heart become narrowed or blocked by fatty deposits called plaque, they decrease the amount of blood and oxygen reaching the heart, which can cause chest pain (angina) or a heart attack.
- Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes occurs when the body can no longer make enough insulin or is unable to use insulin properly. This causes sugars to build up in the blood and increases risks for kidney failure and cardiovascular disease.About 23% of U.S. adults have metabolic syndrome. Although these risks are significant, there is good news. Metabolic syndrome can be treated and you can reduce your risks for cardiovascular events by maintaining a healthy weight, eating a heart-healthy diet, getting adequate physical activity, and following your healthcare providers’ instructions.
Prevention and Treatment
Treating metabolic syndrome requires addressing several conditions together. My Life Check provides a scoring tool and checklist with seven key heart-healthy targets for improving the quality and length of your life. Life’s Simple 7™ will improve your overall cardiovascular health and greatly improve the individual conditions that make up metabolic syndrome.
Here’s what you can do starting today:
- Eat better. Adopt a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats and fish, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products and avoid processed food, which often contains partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, and is high in salt and added sugar.
- Get active. Incorporate at least 150 minutes of moderately vigorous physical activity into your weekly routine. Walking is the easiest place to start, but you may want to experiment to find something else you like to do that gets your heart rate up. If needed, break your exercise up into several short, 10-minute sessions throughout the day to reach your goal.
- Lose weight. Reduce your risk for heart disease by successfully losing weight and keeping it off. Learn your recommended calorie intake, the amount of food calories you’re consuming, and the energy calories you’re burning off with different levels of physical activity. Balance healthy eating with a healthy level of exercise to reach your goals.
When changes in lifestyle alone do not control the conditions related to metabolic syndrome, your health practitioner may prescribe medications to control blood pressure, cholesterol, and other symptoms. Carefully following your practitioner’s instructions can help prevent many of the long term effects of metabolic syndrome. Every step counts and your hard work and attention to these areas will make a difference in your health!
Your Risk for Metabolic Syndrome
Why does metabolic syndrome occur?
Some people are genetically prone to develop insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome. Other people develop metabolic syndrome by:
- Putting on excess body fat
- Failing to get enough physical activity
What groups are most likely to have metabolic syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome has become increasingly common in the United States. Several factors increase the likelihood of acquiring metabolic syndrome:
Obesity is an important potential cause of metabolic syndrome. Excessive fat in and around the abdomen is most strongly associated with metabolic syndrome. However, the reasons abdominal obesity and metabolic syndrome seem to be linked are complex and not fully understood.
- Insulin resistance
Metabolic syndrome is closely associated with a generalized metabolic disorder called insulin resistance, in which the body can’t use insulin efficiently. Some people are genetically predisposed to insulin resistance.
- Race and gender
When they have the same body mass index (BMI), Caucasians are at a greater risk for developing metabolic syndrome than African Americans are. Men are more likely than women to develop metabolic syndrome.
Fortunately, many of the factors that contribute to metabolic syndrome can be addressed through lifestyle changes, such as diet, exercise, and weight loss. By making these changes, you can significantly reduce your risks.