Metabolic syndrome

What is metabolic syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome, or plurimetabolic syndrome, is a cluster of health conditions that occur at the same time. These conditions can be a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and a stroke. These conditions may include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Excess body fat around the waist
  • Pulmonary arterial hypertension
  • High levels of triglycerides
  • High blood glucose levels
  • Abnormal cholesterol

Disease prognosis

People with metabolic syndrome are more likely, in the long term, to develop serious health conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, and suffer a stroke. All of these conditions can be life-threatening, so early treatment to prevent these developing is very important.

What are the symptoms of metabolic syndrome?

The vast majority of people who have metabolic syndrome feel healthy and don’t show signs and symptoms. Although, one visible sign is a large waistline, which should be assessed by a doctor.

If your blood sugar is high, there may be signs and symptoms of diabetes, which include thirst, frequent urination, fatigue and blurred vision.

How is metabolic syndrome diagnosed?

A specialist should assess the patient's medical history, the symptoms present and perform a physical examination.

The National Institutes of Health define metabolic syndrome as having three or more of the following:

  • A large waistline that measures 35 inches or more for women and 40 inches for men.
  • Low levels of HDL (the good cholesterol) in your blood.
  • High levels of triglyceride; a type of fat (lipid) found in your blood usually caused by eating too many high-carbohydrate foods.
  • High fasting blood sugar levels; a fasting blood sugar level from 100 to 125 mg/dL is conserved prediabetes.
  • Hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure.

What are the causes of metabolic syndrome?

The most common cause of the metabolic syndrome is obesity and inactivity. Some other conditions related to this syndrome carry a series of health risks, so they must be immediately controlled by a specialist. These are:

  • Insulin resistance
  • Genetics
  • Lifestyle

Insulin resistance is the driving factor behind the development of diabetes and is associated with high blood pressure, an increase in cholesterol and triglyceride levels and obesity.

Can it be prevented?

To prevent metabolic syndrome, a lifelong commitment to a healthy lifestyle is required.

  • Eat a low-fat diet. Eat a variety of fruits, whole foods, vegetables and lean protein is beneficial.
  • Exercise regularly. A minimum of 30 minutes is recommended for most days of the week.
  • Lose weight. Maintain a healthy body mass index of below 25.
  • Quit smoking. Eliminate tobacco from your life.
  • Control sugar intake. Maintain your blood pressure and blood glucose.

Treatments for metabolic syndrome

Treatment usually begins by treating the underlying diseases causing the condition. For example, if you suffer from diabetes, hyperinsulinemia, high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels, then a doctor should provide the appropriate treatment for these.

Losing weight and exercising are a couple of the most effective measures to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. A specialist will recommend which lifestyle changes you need. This may include improving your diet, quitting smoking and avoiding alcoholic beverages.

If these significant lifestyle changes haven’t improved your condition, then a doctor may offer medication to control your blood pressure, sugar levels and cholesterol.

Which specialist treats this condition?

Metabolic syndrome can be treated by various specialists, such as a cardiologist, endocrinologist and a specialist in internal medicine.