Metabolic Syndrome

What is Metabolic Syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome refers to a cluster of conditions that occur together, and is diagnosed if you have three or more conditions related to your metabolism at one time. Developing one component of metabolic syndrome often puts you at an enhanced risk for developing others. When these conditions develop with one another, then they increase your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Components of metabolic syndrome include:

  • Increased blood pressure
  • High blood sugar level
  • Obesity
  • Abnormal cholesterol levels.

A build-up of excess weight around the abdomen is one of the leading risk factors for metabolic syndrome. Another large risk factor for metabolic syndrome is insulin resistance, in which the body cannot use insulin effectively and is unable to control the amount of sugar that is present. Insulin resistance leads to high blood sugar levels and increased fat.

Other factors that lead to an increased risk for metabolic syndrome include:

  • Age
  • Genetic pre-disposition
  • Hormonal changes
  • Lack of exercise

Diagnosis of Metabolic Syndrome

Your physician may diagnose you with metabolic syndrome if you meet certain criteria. Metabolic syndrome is only diagnosed if at least three of the component conditions are present.

To diagnose metabolic syndrome your physician will consider a number of factors, such as:

  • Waist circumference: A waist circumference of 35 inches or larger for women, and 40 inches or larger for men indicates an excess of body fat around the stomach.
  • Triglyceride level: A triglyceride level that is higher than 150 mg/dL is considered abnormal.
  • Cholesterol: Your physician may check to determine if you have reduced levels of HDL cholesterol. A level of HDL, or “good” cholesterol that is below 40 mg/dL in men, or less than 50 mg/dL in women could indicate a health concern.
  • Blood pressure: A systolic blood pressure measurement (top number) of 130 millimeters of mercury or more, or a diastolic blood pressure measurement (bottom number) higher than 85 millimeters of mercury indicates high blood pressure.
  • Blood sugar: An elevated fasting blood sugar or blood glucose level of 100 mg/ dL or higher indicates high blood sugar.

Treatment for Metabolic Syndrome

If you are diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, then your physician will provide you with detailed instructions as to the best course of treatment for your condition. Treatment for metabolic syndrome often requires a number of lifestyle changes, in addition to medications that will treat the underlying disorders.

For many people, one of the best treatment options is weight loss. Losing as much as five to ten percent of your body weight can reduce insulin levels and blood pressure, as well as decrease your risk of type-2 diabetes. Losing weight through bariatric surgery, as well as exercising and eating a healthy diet are also recommended to treat metabolic syndrome, as does decreased tobacco use.