Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that occur together, including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and high cholesterol or triglyceride levels. It is dangerous because it increases a person’s risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
Having just one of these conditions does not mean you have metabolic syndrome. However, it does increase your risk of a more serious condition. The more of these conditions you develop, the higher the risk of complications.
Causes & Risk Factors
Metabolic syndrome is very common in the U.S., affecting as much as a third of our population. It usually occurs in overweight or obese individuals, as well as those with apple body types. It is also linked to insulin resistance, a condition in which the body overproduces insulin in an attempt to lower blood sugar levels.
The risk of metabolic syndrome increases with age. People of Hispanic origin (especially Hispanic women) are at greater risk of developing this condition. Other risk factors include diabetes, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, polycystic ovary syndrome, and sleep apnea.
In turn, having metabolic syndrome increases your risk of type 2 diabetes and heart/blood vessel disease.
Prevention & Treatment
The best prevention is being committed to a healthy lifestyle. This means eating well and exercising regularly. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Limit salt and saturated fat intake. The Mediterranean diet is highly recommended for lifelong health and wellness. Smoking (and vaping) increases the risk of metabolic syndrome, so avoid the habit or quit.
Treatment usually includes aggressive lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise. If that isn’t enough, you may be prescribed medications to control blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels.