What Is Metabolic Syndrome?
- High blood pressure
- High blood glucose (blood sugar) levels
- High blood levels of triglyceride fat
- Low blood levels of HDL (the good cholesterol)
- Excess body fat around your waist
Having any of these conditions can cause health problems, but having more than one greatly increases your risk of serious disease.
Experts don’t agree on the exact definition or cause of metabolic syndrome. One cause may be insulin resistance – a disorder of the hormone insulin, which your body makes to turn food sugars into energy for your cells. If you are insulin resistant, blood sugar levels rise, causing serious harm.
Metabolic syndrome has varied causes, since it is not just one disease. Poor daily habits, such as smoking, inactivity or an unhealthy diet are major risk factors. Other causes and risk factors include:
- Race – African-American, Hispanic, Asian or Native American heritage can raise your risk
- Age – Your risk increases with age
- Insulin resistance – Excess weight raises your risk of insulin resistance
- Diabetes – Diabetes, including prediabetes and gestational (pregnancy-related) diabetes, increase risk
- A family history of diabetes – If someone in your immediate family has diabetes, your risk of metabolic syndrome is higher
- Obesity – Being obese, especially having extra abdominal fat, increases risk
- Hormonal imbalance – Hormonal conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), can raise your risk
- Other diseases – Cardiovascular disease and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease increase risk
Metabolic syndrome conditions may not have symptoms, although excess abdominal fat is an early warning. High blood sugar can cause diabetes symptoms – including fatigue, increased thirst and urination, and blurred vision.
Treatment of metabolic syndrome begins with regular checkups and healthy lifestyle choices. You can prevent or control metabolic syndrome and its associated disease risks by making simple changes to your everyday lifestyle. These include avoiding tobacco use, staying active and eating a balanced, nutritional diet.
If you have one or more metabolic syndrome signs or risk factors, your doctor can test for others that may not have symptoms. Your doctor will advise you about preventive steps and how to manage any problems, such as high cholesterol or blood pressure.
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