Metabolic Syndrome is not a disease or an illness. Instead, Metabolic Syndrome is the name for various factors that can heighten a person’s risk for heart disease, specifically, coronary heart disease, and other health issues, such as diabetes or stroke. There are five factors that cause Metabolic Syndrome, and a person only needs to be diagnosed with three of them to have the condition. These factors are:
Abdominal obesity, which is when a person carries an excess amount of weight around their waist and in their stomach. People with large waistlines, over 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men, are at a higher risk for Metabolic Syndrome than people who carry their weight on other parts of their bodies.
High blood pressure. Having blood pressure of over 130/85 mmHG, having only one blood pressure number in the high range, or currently being on high blood pressure medication all put one at risk of Metabolic Syndrome.
High fasting blood sugar, or high fasting glucose, is the amount of sugar (glucose) found in the blood after not eating for an entire night. To be at risk for Metabolic Syndrome, one’s high fasting blood sugar must be over 100 mg/dL. A normal fasting blood sugar is under 100 mg/dL. Over 126 mg/dL is diagnosed as diabetes.
A high triglyceride level. Triglyceride is a type of fat found in a person’s blood. Either currently being treated for high triglycerides or having triglyceride levels of over 150 mg/dL heightens the risk for Metabolic Syndrome.
A low HDL cholesterol level. HDL cholesterol helps remove cholesterol from the arteries. Having a level of 50 mg/dL for women and less than 40 mg/dL for men puts a person at risk.
Other factors also heighten a person’s risk. 85% of people suffering from type two diabetes also suffer from Metabolic Syndrome. Having an inactive lifestyle (not exercising), having a parent or sibling with diabetes, or being a women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome also heightens the risk. Mexican Americans are at a higher risk, and women are more likely to have Metabolic Syndrome than men.
Metabolic Syndrome does not have many clear symptoms. The most noticeable symptom of abdominal obesity is a large waistline. High blood pressure usually does not have many symptoms, though sometimes it can cause a person to experience headaches, dizziness, and nosebleeds. Symptoms of high blood sugar include increased thirst and urination, tiredness and blurry vision. Both triglyceride and HDL cholesterol levels must be tested in order to be diagnosed.
Treatments and Preventions
Metabolic Syndrome is incurable, but it can be managed. Eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, cutting down stress, not smoking, and taking any medications prescribed for any of the factors are all healthy lifestyle changes that help control Metabolic Syndrome. Even if you don’t have Metabolic Syndrome, keeping a healthy lifestyle, as well as keeping track of your blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels can all help lower your risk.