Metabolic syndrome, or Syndrome X, is derived from a group of five risk factors that increase the development of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. These five risk factors are:
- high blood pressure
- high blood glucose levels
- excess fat around the waist
- high cholesterol levels
- low levels of good cholesterol
Any one of these risk factors alone doesn’t mean that you have metabolic syndrome. Don’t get the message wrong—having one will still increase your chances of developing cardiovascular disease. However, having three or more of these factors will result in a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome and it WILL increase your risk of several health complications.
What are the risk factors for metabolic syndrome?
The risk factors for metabolic syndrome are related to obesity. The two most important risk factors are defined by:
excess fat around the middle and upper parts of the body
insulin resistance, which makes it difficult for the body to use sugar
Other factors include:
- family history of metabolic syndrome
- not enough exercise
- women diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome
How is metabolic syndrome diagnosed?
For a proper diagnosis, several different tests will need to be performed. The results will be used to look for three or more of those signs mentioned earlier. One or more of the following may be checked by your doctor:
- waist circumference
- fasting blood triglycerides
- cholesterol levels
- blood pressure
- fasting glucose level
If the tests present abnormalities on three or more, it will indicate the presence of metabolic syndrome.
What are the complications of metabolic syndrome?
The possible complications resulting from metabolic syndrome are often serious and long term. They include:
- hardening of the arteries
- heart attack
- kidney disease
- fatty liver disease
- peripheral artery disease
- cardiovascular disease
If diabetes develops, additional health complications include:
- eye damage
- nerve damage
- kidney disease
- amputation of limbs
How is metabolic syndrome treated?
If you are diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, treatment will be to reduce your risk of developing more health complications. Your doctor will recommend lifestyle changes that may include considerable weight loss and beginning a moderate to intense exercise regimen of at least 30 minutes, five to seven days a week.
What is the outlook for patients with metabolic syndrome?
The outlook can be quite good if symptoms are managed. Follow your doctor’s advice: eat right, exercise, stop smoking, and lose weight. All of these steps will reduce your chances of developing serious health problems.
Although managing your symptoms will reduce health complications, most people with this condition will have a long-term risk of cardiovascular disease. If you develop metabolic syndrome, your doctor will need to monitor you regularly to help prevent serious health problems, such as heart attack and stroke.
How can metabolic syndrome be prevented?
It is certainly possible to prevent metabolic syndrome. Keep that healthy waist circumference, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels to reduce your risk for metabolic syndrome. Consistent exercise and weight loss will help, as well as decrease insulin resistance.
Make sure to eat a healthy balanced diet with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Don’t forget to make regular physical exams a key part of your prevention efforts. Monitoring and early detection will reduce health complications over the long term.