Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of three or more conditions related to your metabolism, which is the way the cells in your body obtain and use energy. Metabolic syndrome can cause serious health complications including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and premature death.
Although researchers agree on the basic components of the syndrome, different sources provide different measurements for some factors. These are the key elements of metabolic syndrome as defined by the American Association of Endocrinologists. At least three of these conditions must be present for a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome:
- High blood sugar – Fasting blood glucose level of 100 mg/dL. This may include insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, or diagnosed type 2 diabetes.
- High blood pressure – Blood pressure reading of 130/85 or higher, or taking medication to lower blood pressure.
- Plasma triglycerides – Levels of 150 mg/dL or higher.
- HDL cholesterol – Good cholesterol less than 40 mg/dL for men or less than 50 mg/dL for women.
- Body Mass Index – BMI greater than 25.
Other risk factors include:
- Ethnicity – Belonging to an ethnic group that has an increased tendency for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease may increase the risk of metabolic syndrome.
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Lack of exercise – Living a sedentary lifestyle.
- Age – Risks increase with age.
The American Heart Association also adds a waist size of more than 40 inches for men or 35 inches for women.
Metabolic syndrome often runs in families, as does type 2 diabetes. There are no medications available to treat metabolic syndrome. But the condition is often reversible through diet and exercise. This has the added benefit of reducing the risk of heart disease and other serious complications.
Other treatments for metabolic syndrome include treatments for the individual components of the condition. Medications are available to help balance cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and to lower blood pressure. Some people with metabolic syndrome have an increased risk for blood clots that can cause heart attacks. This may require treatment with daily aspirin therapy or other medications.
Metabolic syndrome is recognized as a risk factor for developing diabetes in people who do not already have it. If you have any of the conditions recognized as part of metabolic syndrome, talk to your health care provider about what you can do to lower your risks.
Denise DeWitt is a freelance writer for EmpowHER.com.
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