It might sound like a single condition, but metabolic syndrome actually describes a clustering of risk factors for heart disease. These include carrying too much fat around your waist or having high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar levels, high triglycerides and/or low HDL (or good) cholesterol.
If you’ve been told that you have metabolic syndrome (sometimes called cardiometabolic syndrome), it means that you have several of these health problems. Together, they put you at much greater risk for heart attack, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
In general, someone who has metabolic syndrome is twice as likely to develop heart disease and five times as likely to develop diabetes as a person who doesn’t have this grouping of health issues. Unfortunately, amid rising obesity rates in the U.S., this syndrome is becoming more common. Alarmingly, one out of 10 teens may have it.
The good news is that committing to living a healthier life over the long-haul can make a difference. Lifestyle changes—for example, getting exercise, losing weight, eating a heart-healthy diet and not smoking—can help delay or even prevent the development of serious health problems. It’s important to partner with your health team to map out steps to manage your risk.
Use this condition center to learn more about metabolic syndrome, create a list of questions to ask your health care provider and get practical tips.
Metabolic syndrome has been called the “perfect storm” when it comes to heart disease risk. It’s a combination of health problems—for example, carrying too much fat around your waist, high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar levels and abnormal cholesterol levels—that often occurs together and raises your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. This clustering of risk factors happens because the body has a hard time regulating cholesterol (lipids), certain proteins and sugars (glucose).
It can be worrying to learn that you or a loved one has metabolic syndrome. The upside is that if it is found early, it can serve as an important warning and help put you on a heart-healthier path. Many lifestyle changes, including weight loss, can prevent and even reverse every component of metabolic syndrome, or delay the development of serious health problems.
“If we can catch these risk factors early on through blood tests and a physical exam, we can help reduce the risk that these patients will go on to develop heart disease and diabetes,” said Laura Ross, PA-C, Park Nicollet Heart and Vascular Center, St. Louis Park, Minn.