What is metabolic syndrome?

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Metabolic syndrome is a collection of health risks that increase your chance of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. The condition is also known by other names including Syndrome X, insulin resistance syndrome, and dysmetabolic syndrome. According to a national health survey, more than one in five Americans has metabolic syndrome. The number of people with metabolic syndrome increases with age, affecting more than 40 percent of people in their 60s and 70s.

What are these health risks?

You are diagnosed with metabolic syndrome if you have three or more of the following:

A waistline of 40 inches or more for men and 35 inches for women (measured across the belly)

A blood pressure of 130/85 mm Hg or higher

A triglyceride above 150 mg/dl

A fasting glucose (sugar) level greater than 100 mg/dl

A HDL less than 40 mg/dl (men) or under 50 mg/dl (women)

What causes metabolic syndrome?

The exact cause of metabolic syndrome is not known. Most researchers believe it is caused by a combination of lifestyle choices including the types and amounts of food you eat and your level of physical activity.

What health problems might develop?

Damage to the lining of the coronary and other arteries, may lead to heart disease or stroke

Changes in the kidneys’ ability to remove salt, leading to high blood pressure, heart disease, or stroke

An increase in triglyceride levels, may lead to cardiovascular disease

An increased risk of blood clot formation, which can block arteries and cause heart attacks and strokes

A slowing of insulin production, which can signal the start of type 2 diabetes, a disease that can increase your risk for heart attack or stroke and may damage your eyes, nerves, or kidneys

How do I prevent or reverse metabolic syndrome?

Since physical inactivity and excess weight are the main underlying causes of this condition, getting more exercise and losing weight, may reduce or prevent the complications of this condition.

Consider dietary changes: Eat less fat; limit carbohydrates to no more than 50% of total calories; increase your fiber intake by eating whole grains (breads and pastas brown rice, etc), fruits and vegetables, and legumes (beans).

Lose weight: A weight loss of 5-10% is a good start and will help your body to begin to adjust your glucose and cholesterol levels.

Article by: Mara L. Trojanski Registered Dietitian

Article by: Mara L. Trojanski
Registered Dietitian

Exercise: A brisk 30-minute walk 3X week can help you lose weight, improve your mood, lower your blood pressure, and improve cholesterol levels. 
Limit alcohol intake: have no more than 1 drink a day for women or 2 drinks a day for men.