You know how it goes; you plan to make an appointment with your healthcare provider so you can stay up to date with your health. Then before you know it, time gets away from you, months have passed, and that doctor’s appointment just didn’t happen. It's OK if this is you – you had the best intentions. And now is as good as a time as ever to find out your health status.
Knowing where you stand is important, because if you are aware, you can implement ways to lower your risk factors and reverse any poor health outcomes your doctor may have uncovered.
If you recently spoke to your healthcare provider and discovered you have Metabolic Syndrome, here’s what you need to know about what it is, its symptoms and its causes.
The Facts about Metabolic Syndrome
So what is metabolic syndrome? Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions that put you at greater risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke.Metabolic syndrome symptoms may include the following:
- Abdominal obesity
- Insulin resistance
- High blood pressure
- High blood sugar
- High triglycerides
- Low HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol)
If three or more of these metabolic syndrome criteria are present, you may be more at risk of being diagnosed with the condition.
Is metabolic syndrome common?
The prevalence of metabolic syndrome is greater than you think and it’s not discriminative of age or gender. In fact, at least 1/3rd of American adults is classified as having metabolic syndrome. It doesn’t stop there – it is a global problem.
It’s estimated that over a billion people in the world are affected by it. That’s about one-quarter of the world population.
What Causes Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic Syndrome isn't’ really a condition, but more so a collection of conditions that when you have any number of them, you’re at a greater risk of developing a more serious health condition including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Genetics may play a partial role in the incidence of metabolic syndrome; however, lifestyle choices and behavior change are the greatest influence on whether you are affected by metabolic syndrome.
Lack of physical activity
Physical inactivity and poor diet are an integral part of your health and risk factors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 40 percent of Americans are physically inactive, inducing such a metabolic disorder.
Exercise plays a role in the prevention and treatment of metabolic syndrome. Regular physical activity can improve your blood glucose levels, cholesterol, body weight, and triglycerides – all of which are markers for metabolic syndrome. If you don’t exercise regularly, you’re at a greater risk of chronic conditions including those associated with metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome most frequently occurs alongside obesity. Several studies have confirmed the correlation between an unhealthy diet and metabolic syndrome risk. On the other hand, healthy dietary patterns are associated with reduced risk of this metabolic disorder and chronic conditions associated with it.
Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance put you at greater risk of metabolic syndrome. Most people who have metabolic syndrome also have insulin resistance. So what is insulin resistance? Your body produces insulin to help control where sugar is used. If you have insulin resistance, your body doesn’t respond to the insulin as well and it becomes unused and out of control. Insulin resistance leads to diabetes and is related to abdominal obesity.
Other risk factors:
- Unhealthy lifestyle
- Hormonal imbalance like PCOS
It can be scary to be diagnosed with Metabolic Syndrome, or even know you have at least three of the risk factors. Take a deep breath because the good news is you can reverse your situation and improve your health status by making behavior and lifestyle changes. Nowadays, there are many ways to deal with such a condition and boost your metabolic health. The first step is to talk to your healthcare professional about your concerns; they can help you develop a plan for prevention that works for you and your lifestyle.
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: Metabolic Syndrome
- Moore JX, Chaudhary N, Akinyemiju T. Metabolic Syndrome Prevalence by Race/Ethnicity and Sex in the United States, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988–2012. Prev Chronic Dis 2017;14:160287. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5888/pcd14.160287external icon.
- Hirode G, Wong RJ. Trends in the Prevalence of Metabolic Syndrome in the United States, 2011-2016. 2020;323(24):2526–2528. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.4501
- Saklayen MG. The Global Epidemic of the Metabolic Syndrome. Curr Hypertens 2018 Feb 26;20(2):12. doi: 10.1007/s11906-018-0812-z
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical Inactivity Maps
- Golbidi S, Mesdaghinia A, Laher I. Exercise in the metabolic syndrome. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2012;2012:349710. doi: 10.1155/2012/349710
- Suliga E, Kozieł D, Cieśla E, Głuszek S. Association between dietary patterns and metabolic syndrome in individuals with normal weight: a cross-sectional study. Nutr J. 2015 May 30;14:55. doi: 10.1186/s12937-015-0045-9
Roberts CK, Hevener AL, Barnard RJ. Metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance: underlying causes and modification by exercise training. Compr Physiol. 2013 Jan;3(1):1-58. doi: 10.1002/cphy.c110062