DISEASES AND CONDITIONS

What Is Metabolic Syndrome?

By Temma Ehrenfeld @Temmaehrenfeld
 | 
March 02, 2020

Five risk factors add up to metabolic syndrome, which puts you at risk of heart attack, stroke, and diabetes. At least 25 percent of Americans have this health problem.

At least a quarter of Americans have metabolic syndrome, which means it’s more likely that plaque will build up in the arteries near your heart, where it could harden and narrow the arteries, cutting into blood flow to your heart muscle.

You must have at least three of five conditions — known as metabolic risk factors — to be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome.

The word metabolic simply means a normal biochemical process of the body. Many people with metabolic syndrome are overweight or obese.

 

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What are the five risk factors of metabolic syndrome?

  • A large waistline. You’ve probably heard that it’s more dangerous to have fat around your middle than on your hips or thighs. An apple-shaped figure is a risk factor for heart disease. In women, you’re at risk if your waist is 35 inches or more, and in men the danger begins at around 40 inches.
  • A high triglycerides level. When you eat a meal with lots of fat, the fat turns into triglycerides in your blood. Later on, your liver turns some of these triglycerides into cholesterol and stores the rest as part of the fat in your body. The danger begins at 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or 1.7 millimoles per liter (mmol/L). If you have a high level of triglycerides in your blood, your doctor may recommend fish oil, vitamin B-3 (niacin), or a statin drug (simvastatin, atorvastatin, and rosuvastatin are examples).A low HDL cholesterol level. There are two kinds of cholesterol. HDL stands for high-density lipoprotein, considered the “good” cholesterol. LDL stands for low-density lipoprotein, or “bad” cholesterol. You need both kinds, but the ratio of the two is important. Low HDL is a problem because this is the substance that carries LDL cholesterol away from your arteries and prevents plaque from building up. Your doctor will be concerned if she sees less than 40 mg/dL (1.04 mmol/L) of HDL in men or less than 50 mg/dL (1.3 mmol/L) in women.
  • High blood pressure. Your blood pushes against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps. If it pushes especially hard and stays at that high level for too long, your heart could be damaged. You want to see less than 30/85 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).
  • High fasting blood sugar. This is an early sign of diabetes, which is linked to heart disease. If you are overweight or diabetes runs in your family, you are more likely to develop insulin resistance, which means your body doesn’t use insulin correctly and your blood sugar level rises. There are several ways to measure your risk of diabetes. Your fasting blood sugar is high if it is 100 mg/dL or higher after a fast.
  • Other risk factors. Increases with age and diseases such as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, polycystic ovary syndrome, or sleep apnea.

Can you prevent or reverse metabolic syndrome?

Being active, fit, and normal weight will help protect you. If you smoke, quit now!

Avoid animal fats and salt. You’ll lower your chances of diabetes and heart disease if you eat food that is high in fiber and nutrients and lower in calories. That usually means lots of vegetables, beans, whole grains, and fish. If you eat animal products, stick to lean cuts of meat and low-fat dairy.

Making sure you have enough sleep will also help you keep the pounds off.

 

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Updated:  

March 02, 2020

Reviewed By:  

Janet O’Dell