What is Metabolic Syndrome

Source: American Heart Association

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of metabolic risk factors. When a patient presents with these risk factors together, the chances for future cardiovascular problems are 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 35 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 are obesity, being overweight, physical inactivity and genetic factors.

What are the risk factors?

Metabolic syndrome occurs when a person has three or more of the following measurements:

  • Abdominal obesity
  • 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
  • Diastolic blood pressure (bottom number) of 85 mm Hg or greater
  • Fasting glucose of 100 mg/dL or greater
  • Insulin resistance or glucose intolerance (the body can’t properly use insulin or blood sugar)

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.

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