blood pressure

What Is Metabolic Syndrome?

Author: Miguel Villalobos, MD

Metabolic Syndrome is a group of conditions that increase your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. These conditions include:

High blood sugar. Eating too many carbohydrates can cause high blood sugar (or chronic hyperglycemia.) A blood sugar level of 100 mg/dL (milligrams per deciliter of blood) or higher is a metabolic risk factor. People with type 2 diabetes most likely also have metabolic syndrome, as a blood sugar level of 126 mg/dL or higher is considered diabetes.

Excess body fat around the waist. Carrying excess weight around your waist is also known as abdominal obesity. Women with a waist measurement of 35 inches or more or men with a waist measurement of 40 inches or more are at higher risk for heart disease and other health problems.

Abnormal cholesterol levels. HDL (or “good”) cholesterol helps remove LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol from your arteries. When HDL cholesterol levels are less than 50 mg/dL in women or less than 40 mg/dL in men, this is a metabolic risk factor. According to the American Heart Association, adults 20 and older should have their cholesterol checked every four to six years.

High triglyceride levels. Triglycerides are fats from the food we eat that are found in the blood. A normal triglyceride level is considered 200 mg/dL or lower. Elevated triglycerides put you at greater risk for metabolic syndrome. To lower triglycerides, reduce your intake of sweets, alcohol, and carbohydrate-rich foods. Instead, increase your intake of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in cold-water fish like halibut, salmon and mackerel. It is also important to maintain a healthy weight.

High blood pressure. When your blood pressure is above 130/85 mmHg, or if you are on medication to treat high blood pressure, your chances of having metabolic syndrome increase. You can help lower your blood pressure by eating healthy, reducing salt, engaging in physical activity, limiting alcohol, quitting smoking, and managing your stress level.

Statistics for Utah

  • There were more than 113,000 heart disease cases in 2010.
  • There were nearly 30,000 cases of obesity-related cancer in 2010.
  • In 2013, 24% of the adult population (or 390,000 people) had hypertension
  • 1% of Utah adults (or 164,000 people) had diabetes in 2013.

If you have Metabolic Syndrome, your risk for heart attack and stroke nearly doubles. Making serious lifestyle changes can help you reduce or manage risk factors that can lead to Metabolic Syndrome. Your doctor can help you determine whether you have Metabolic Syndrome and develop a plan to reduce risk factors and improve your health.