Am I at Risk for Metabolic Syndrome?
November 7, 2022
What is Metabolic Syndrome?
Did you know one in four Americans is at considerable risk for Metabolic Syndrome and most of us do not know it? Knowing the risk factors and making healthy lifestyle changes will help lower the chances of developing metabolic syndrome and the health problems it can cause. A diagnosis of metabolic syndrome can be an early warning alarm. By acting early, you may be able to avoid a serious health crisis like a heart attack or stroke.
Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions that increase the chance of coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other serious health problems. The condition is also known by other names including Syndrome X, insulin resistance syndrome, and dysmetabolic syndrome.
Metabolic Syndrome Symptoms
Usually, there are no immediate physical symptoms of metabolic syndrome. Medical problems associated with metabolic syndrome develop over time. These conditions include increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels.
The National Institutes of Health provides the guidelines for the syndrome as having three or more of the following traits:
- Large waist — A waistline that measures at least 35 inches (89 centimeters) for women and 40 inches (102 centimeters) for men
- High triglyceride level — 150 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), or 1.7 millimoles per liter (mmol/L), or higher of this type of fat found in blood
- Reduced "good" or HDL cholesterol — Less than 40 mg/dL (1.04 mmol/L) in men or less than 50 mg/dL (1.3 mmol/L) in women of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol
- Increased blood pressure — 130/85 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or higher
- Elevated fasting blood sugar — 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L) or higher
What causes metabolic syndrome?
The exact cause of metabolic syndrome is not known but it is linked to obesity and inactivity. People with metabolic syndrome often have insulin resistance which can lead to diabetes. Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body does not respond well to insulin. For people with insulin resistance, cells do not respond normally to insulin and glucose cannot enter the cells as easily. As a result, your blood sugar levels rise even as your body churns out increased insulin to try to lower your blood sugar. A combination of genetic and lifestyle factors may lead to insulin resistance. Also, lifestyle factors including dietary habits, inactivity, and interrupted sleep patterns, such as sleep apnea may factor in.
Risk factors like age also increase the chance of metabolic syndrome. More than 40% of people in their 60s and 70s are affected. Ethnicity can also be a factor, Hispanic women are at the greatest risk, although the reason for this is not clear.
The risk increases for people who have a family history of type 2 diabetes or heart disease. Women are also more likely to have metabolic syndrome if they have had diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes). High cholesterol and high blood pressure can contribute to the buildup of plaques in your arteries. These plaques can narrow and harden your arteries, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
How to reduce the risk of Metabolic Syndrome
If you have risk factors for metabolic syndrome it's not too late to avoid health complications. Talk to your doctor about what lifestyle changes you should be focusing on. Changes like increased exercise and physical activity along with a healthy diet and weight loss can help avoid the conditions that contribute to metabolic syndrome. If lifestyle changes do not work, prescription medications are available to help control factors like cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar.
Some of the commonly recommended ways to reduce your risk include:
- Healthy eating: Focus on a regular diet that includes vegetables, fruits, high-fiber whole grains, and lean protein. It is also a good idea to limit your intake of sugar, salt, sugary beverages, alcohol, and unhealthy data like saturated fat and trans-fat.
- Weight loss: Moderate weight loss, in the range of 5% to 10% of body weight, can help restore your body’s ability to recognize insulin and reduce the chance that the syndrome will become a more serious illness.
- Exercise: Increased activity alone can improve your insulin sensitivity. Aerobic exercise such as a brisk 30-minute daily walk can promote weight loss, improved blood pressure and triglycerides levels, and a reduced risk of developing diabetes.
- Sleep Quality: Not getting enough quality sleep over time can lead to serious physical and mental health problems. The recommended amount of sleep for adults is 7 to 9 hours a day.
- Quit Smoking: Giving up cigarettes improves your overall health. Talk to your doctor if you need help quitting.
- Medications: If healthy lifestyle changes alone do not work for you, you may need to consult your physician for medicines used together with healthy lifestyle changes.
Metabolic Syndrome Tests
Screening for metabolic syndrome is an important part of taking care of your health. Simple blood tests like a lipid panel (cholesterol test), glucose (blood sugar), or comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP) can alert you to warning signs that you may need to follow up on with your doctor. Checking your weight and blood pressure are also easy ways to stay on top of potential risks. If your results show that something is out of the ordinary, you can go to your doctor armed with the information to make an informed decision.
Request A Test provides affordable lab testing services that anyone can take advantage of. We make it quick and easy to order your own lab testing so you can monitor your health and look out for warning signs of conditions like metabolic syndrome. You can order any test you need, as often as you need, and go to one of the thousands of nationwide testing sites we partner with. No one is going to be a better advocate for your health than you are. Don't wait for health problems to develop. Take the initiative to test yourself today. Request A Test is here to help. Just call us at 1-888-732-2348 or visit us online to get started.
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