By: Nikki Nies
Metabolic syndrome is not an actual syndrome, but a cluster of risk factors that can raise one’s chances of heart disease, diabetes and/or stroke. While, the name may be misleading, it’s called metabolic syndrome due to the impact the risk factors have on one’s biochemical processes and the ability for one’s body to function normally. Other common names for MetS include Syndrome X, Obesity syndrome, insulin resistance syndrome, hypertriglyceridimic waist and/or dysmetabolic syndrome.
While one can have only one of the following risk factors, it’s common for someone to encounter multiple risk factors simultaneously. One’s considered to have metabolic syndrome if at least 3/5 risk factors pertain to them:
- Large waistline: Also known as “apple shape”; with abdominal obesity, excess fat in the abdominal area increases chances of heart disease, then on hips; for men: 40 inches or larger; for women: 35 inches or larger
- High triglyceride levels: Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood; or if you’re already on triglyceride medications; 150 mg/dL or higher
- Low HDL cholesterol level: When low HDL levels are low, it means the cholesterol from arteries isn’t being removed at ideal rate;for men: 40 mg/dL or lower; for women: 50 mg/dL or lower
- High blood pressure: With high blood pressure over time, it can damage the heart and lead to plaque buildup; blood pressure of 135/85 mm Hg or higher
- High fasting blood sugar: Can signify early diabetes; 100 mg/dL or higher
For those living with MetS, it can lead to diabetes, yet the follow recommendations for those with MetS may help:
- Increase physical activity: while it may be hard at first, start by walking 5 minutes a day and increase time gradually; it’s doctor recommended to do at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise daily
- Losing 5-10% of your body weight can make a world of difference! It can decrease blood pressure, insulin resistance and one’s risk for diabetes
- Adopting the Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet or Mediterranean diet can help one eat healthier: limits intake of unhealthy fats, while highlighting whole grains, high intake of fruits and vegetables and low sodium foods
- Stop smoking!: Smoking increases one’s insulin resistance and
- If prescribed, don’t forget to necessary medications to help control blood pressure and cholesterol levels
The more risk factors one has, for example, 4/5 risk factors, the more likely one will develop heart disease and or develop diabetes than someone who doesn’t have metabolic syndrome. While the above risk factors are often looked at as indicators of heart disease, they’re not the sole risk factors, physical inactivity, smoking, insulin resistance, age and gender can also play a role in one’s heart health. With 35% of the American adults with MetS, be proactive and talk to your physician.