Is it metabolic syndrome?

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Is it metabolic syndrome?

Condition affects 1 in 3 adults

What do high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol have in common?

They are all serious health conditions, that when occurring together, are risk factors for a condition called metabolic syndrome. Approximately one in three American adults has metabolic syndrome, which increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and chronic health conditions.

Metabolic syndrome is defined as having three or more of the five following conditions, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute:

  • Large waistline: This is also called central obesity, which is excess fat in the stomach area. Health risks increase in men who have a waist circumference of greater than 40 inches, and in women who have a waist circumference of greater than 35 inches.
  • High blood pressure: Long-term high blood pressure can damage the heart and blood vessels. It can cause plaque, a waxy buildup in the arteries, that can lead to heart attack or stroke. Ideal blood pressure is less than 130/80, but may vary depending on the individual.
  • High blood sugar: This can damage blood vessels and raise the risk of blood clots, which can cause heart and blood vessel diseases. A fasting blood glucose reading should be less than 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). For diabetic patients, the A1C level (average three-month blood sugar level) should be less than 7 percent.
  • High triglycerides: Triglycerides are a type of fat in the blood, that when too high, can increase the risk of heart disease. A normal triglyceride level is less than 150 mg/dL.
  • Low HDL cholesterol: Also called good cholesterol, HDL can help discard “bad” LDL cholesterol from blood vessels. HDL cholesterol should be more than 40 mg/dL in men and more than 50 mg/DL in women.

Most people who have metabolic syndrome have insulin resistance, according to John Hopkins Medicine. If the body cannot make enough insulin to override the resistance, blood sugar level increases, causing type 2 diabetes.

Additionally, metabolic syndrome becomes more likely as people age. The American Heart Association estimates that metabolic syndrome soon will become the main risk factor for cardiovascular disease, ahead of cigarette smoking.

Metabolic syndrome is largely preventable through lifestyle changes. This includes maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet, and being physically active. In some instances, medications may be necessary to control specific conditions associated with metabolic syndrome.

It is important to talk with your healthcare provider about your risk of metabolic syndrome, and to continue to participate in regular health checkups.