A relatively unfamiliar term, metabolic syndrome is caused by insulin resistance and increases a person’s risk for cardiovascular disease and premature death.
Metabolic syndrome (sometimes known as metabolic syndrome X) is a group of cardiac risk factors—obesity, high blood pressure, abnormalities in blood clotting and lipid abnormalities. The condition is diagnosed if any three of these symptoms are present:
* Elevated waist circumference: 40 inches or more for men; 35 inches or more for women
* Elevated triglycerides: 150 mg/dL or higher
* Low HDL (“good” cholesterol): less than 40 mg/dL in men; less than 50 mg/dL in women
* Elevated blood pressure: 130/85 mm Hg or higher
* Elevated fasting blood sugar: 100 mg/dL or higer
Who’s at risk?
Metabolic syndrome tends to run in families, along with the tendency for type 2 diabetes. It may occur in at-risk people who become overweight and inactive. So, like type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome can be prevented with exercise and diet control.
How is it treated?
Each risk factor needs to be treated individually and aggressively. Lifestyle changes are important, but in many cases, drug therapy also is needed to lower high cholesterol and blood sugar levels, as well as blood pressure.
While there is no drug that directly treats the underlying insulin resistance in metabolic syndrome, there are ways to reverse insulin resistance—diet and exercise. With vigorous efforts to reduce weight, increase exercise and eat healthy, metabolic syndrome can be reversed and the risk for cardiovascular complications can be substantially improved.