Metabolic syndrome is a group of metabolic risk factors that place people at greater likelihood for developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes. More than one in three (34%) of U.S. adults have metabolic syndrome. When a healthcare professional notes these risk factors together, the chances for future cardiovascular problems are greater than any one factor presenting alone.
How does metabolic syndrome occur?
Metabolic syndrome occurs when a person has three or more of the following measurements:
- Abdominal obesity
- Triglyceride level of 150 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 mm Hg or greater
- Diastolic blood pressure (bottom number) of 85 mm Hg or greater
- Fasting glucose of 100 mg/dL or greater
Metabolic syndrome is closely associated with a generalized metabolic disorder called insulin resistance. For people who suffer from this condition, their bodies can't use insulin efficiently. Therefore, metabolic syndrome is also called insulin resistance syndrome.
What are the risk factors for metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance?
Some people are genetically prone to develop insulin resistance. Other people develop insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome by:
- Putting on excess body fat
- Failing to get enough physical activity
- Consuming a diet high in carbohydrates (more than 60 percent of daily caloric intake from carbs)
How is metabolic syndrome treated?
Metabolic syndrome can be treated by:
- Taking prescribed drugs including:
- Managing weight
- Adopting a heart-healthy diet
- Making physical activity part of the daily routine
Results of a recent study that followed participants for 15 years found that fitness is key. Unfit or moderately fit adults had twice the risk for high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome and diabetes than those who were highly fit. The risk increased directly as fitness level dropped off. The younger a person adopts a physically active lifestyle, the better chance they have to reduce their risk for the metabolic syndrome, heart disease, diabetes and stroke.