Metabolic syndrome is a combination of conditions associated with obesity that may include high blood pressure, elevated blood lipids, and high fasting blood sugar.
Metabolic syndrome puts a person at risk for: Type 2 diabetesCoronary artery diseaseHeart attackStrokePeripheral artery disease
Metabolic syndrome may be characterized by:
obesity—high amount of fat around the waist
Low levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL or good) cholesterolHigh levels of triglycerides—type of fat measured in the bloodElevated blood pressureElevated fasting glucose level due to lower sensitivity to insulin
Coronary Artery Disease
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The exact cause of metabolic syndrome is not known. It believed to be due to a combination of factors, such as: Genetic factorsLack of physical activityPoor diet
Metabolic syndrome is more common in people who are Hispanic, Caucasian, or African American. Factors that may increase your chance of metabolic syndrome include:
Having disorders or conditions associated with metabolic disorder such as:
DiabetesHigh blood pressureCholesterol problemsCoronary artery diseasePolycystic ovary syndromeHistory of gestational diabetesFamily history of the disorders listed abovePhysical inactivityPoor diet
Unhealthy habits, such as
smokingCertain medications, such as atypical antipsychotics
Symptoms may include: Frequent urination, and
excessive thirst and hunger due to high blood sugarsDark, velvety skin discoloration seen with obesity
You may be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome if you have: Waist measurement—greater than 40 inches in Caucasian men (35 inches in Asian men) or 35 inches in Caucasian women (30 inches in Asian women)At least 2 of the following: Fasting glucose level—greater than or equal to 100 mg/dL* (5.55 mmol/L)Triglyceride level—greater than or equal to 150 mg/dL (1.7 mmol/L)HDL cholesterol—less than 40 mg/dL (1.0 mmol/L) in men and less than 50 mg/dL (1.3 mmol/L) in womenBlood pressure—greater than or equal to 130/85 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg)
*mg/dL = milligrams per deciliter blood, mmol/L = millimoles per liter blood
The treatment of metabolic syndrome involves: Treatment of underlying causes, usually by diet and exerciseTreatment of specific metabolic abnormality
or other weight loss surgery may be helpful to treat metabolic syndrome if obesity is severe. Talk to your doctor to learn if this is an option for you.
Reducing excess weight
by at least 10% in the next 6-12 monthsIncreasing physical activity to 30-60 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise four or more days per week as approved by your doctorLowering blood pressure to below 130/85 mmHg with diet, exercise, and possibly medicationImproving triglyceride and HDL cholesterol levels through diet, exercise, and possibly medication
High blood pressure—treated with anti-hypertensive medication and lifestyle changesInsulin resistance—treated with diabetes medications and lifestyle changesHigh cholesterol—treated with cholesterol-lowering medications called statins and lifestyle changesClotting tendency—treated with low-dose aspirin , especially in those with moderate to high cardiovascular risk
To reduce your chances of metabolic syndrome, take these steps:
If you smoke, talk to your doctor about how to successfully
Achieve and maintain a healthy weight by eating fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.Talk to your doctor how to increase your intake of specific minerals, such as magnesium.Work up to 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise most days of the week.Drink alcohol in moderation. This means no more than 2 drinks daily for men, 1 drink daily for women.
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Last reviewed February 2015 by Kim Carmichael, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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