Metabolic syndrome is not a specific medical condition. Rather, it's a term used to describe a combination of conditions that increase a person's chances of developing a chronic health problem such as heart disease, stroke or diabetes.
The Specifics of Metabolic Syndrome
Several risk factors, when present together, comprise metabolic syndrome. One of the major ones is having a large waistline, or abdominal obesity. Other factors include high triglyceride levels, or low levels of HDL cholesterol (considered the “good” type). High blood pressure is also part of the equation, as is high fasting glucose (blood sugar), insulin resistance or glucose intolerance. Medically, if someone has three or more of these factors at the same time, then a doctor may diagnose them with metabolic syndrome.
Though that person may not have any major health risks just yet, metabolic syndrome is still a major concern. Researchers estimate that having it raises the odds for developing diabetes fivefold and doubles the chance of getting heart disease. Even having just one of the factors is a risk factor on its own.
How to Reduce Your Risk
There's plenty that people can do to reduce their risk and even eliminate metabolic syndrome. It starts with lifestyle changes, such as achieving a healthy weight through a good diet and exercise. Quitting smoking is also an important step. Medication may be necessary to manage some of the risk factors, so it’s best to work closely with a doctor to figure out the best course of action in managing metabolic syndrome..
SOURCES: American Heart Association; U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute